Sociologists have noted the unprecedented “acceleration of change” happening in our world.
Information is instantaneous. People change locations more, change work more, change relationships more in our time than any other. And let’s be honest: a pandemic has made it easier than ever for Christians to check out other churches…and change.
And yet, change is still one of the greatest factors of stress in our lives.
Let’s have a reality check, leaders: change makes us uneasy, doesn’t it?
The truth is: all of us will have to deal with change throughout our lives and in our churches. It’s inevitable.
But if change is inevitable, then why does it seem so hard?
Because change, by its very nature, infers the loss of something…of something familiar.
There is a lot beneath the surface in organizational fear of change, or the leader’s personal fear, but every leader must subscribe to a foundational truth: there is no growth without change. And the corollary to that is: there is no change without letting go of the past.
Growth = Change…
Change = Letting Go of the Past
It’s a simple principle, but we can’t reach for the new without letting go of the old…and it’s a little naive to think it won’t be painful to some degree. Letting go of anything typically means grief, and most of us will avoid grief as much as we avoid conflict. Regardless, if we want to grow our churches in depth, influence, and reach, we will inevitably have to let go of something that was comfortable.
Have you ever thought about the immense changes the early church went through?
From the end of the gospels and into the book of Acts, think about this sequence of “change events”:
- The Leader of this new revolution—Jesus—is killed after three years of relationship-building;
- Then one of the twelve “inside” guys commits suicide;
- Three days later the Leader shows up not at the door, but through the door;
- About six weeks later He disappears again leaving them with minimal instructions;
- Ten days later 120 of them are hiding out and get blasted by God and start speaking in different languages;
- 3000 people join their movement that afternoon;
- A few days later, a well-known guy gets healed and 5000 more people join the church (a church that still doesn’t have a name, Sunday School, a small groups pastor, a “New Testament”, or a building);
- Their two main leaders get arrested;
- Then after one of their deacons is put to death, massive persecution happens and this fledgling new church is scattered.
Now that’s change!
Fact is, God knows that we have to have a certain amount of change and challenge for us to feel fully alive in order that we’ll make new decisions that force us to choose Him and engage with His Kingdom more fully and deeply. That may be why the apostle Paul writes to his friend Timothy and says, “I die daily”…meaning that every day we may have to leave what is familiar to us in order to grow closer to the God of our souls. Growth only comes from change.
And when He whispers, “It’s time to change”, believe me, it’s time to change.
In us as leaders. And in our churches.
- What needs to change in your leadership…and in your church?