Change is a word often surrounded by flashing caution signs for church boards. Mention “change” and you just know someone will be upset. (Curiously, we often overlook the upset caused by our failure to consider change.)
Change in the congregational context can be like atomic power. Harnessed and focused, it can produce important resources for our life together. Ignored or deferred, the same power becomes quite literally radioactive, unstable, and thereby destabilizing of our life together. Wherever your church board is in your relationship with change, we all need to get to know the power – and hazards – of change and to make change our friend in service of God’s work in the world.
Of course, change is built into creation. There are cycles of life and death that are everywhere in the natural world. We all change – like it or not.
Seth Godin wrote this week:
When an entrepreneur gets funded, it’s often difficult for them to start spending money on assets–the old limits fade slowly. What used to be smart is now dumb. What used to [be] too risky is now the safe thing to do.
When someone gets older or is injured, one of the dangers is that they’ll fail to realize that they can’t do the things they used to do in quite the same way.
And graduating from college means that you probably can’t maintain the lifestyle you used to have…
None of these changes are failures. They’re simply steps in the journey.
We change. That’s part of the deal.
A well-lived life without calibration is unlikely.
God is invested in our calibration! The evidence of this is everywhere in scripture:
2 Corinthians 5:17–Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Ezekiel 36:26–And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Romans 12:2–Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Philippians 1:6–And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
God’s love and grace seeks to change us. How then can we fence off some things in our life or faith from that truth? (God, feel free to work on me, but don’t touch the worship style in my congregation??)
Colorado poet Wendy Videlock (b. 1961) sums it all up in a few simple lines:
by Wendy Videlock
Change is the new,
word for god,
to raise a song
a sea of wrongs,
like other gods,
and estrange us.
we seem to say,
What stands out for you in Videlock’s poem?
How can change do all these things: raise a lovely song … implicate a sea of wrongs … bring us together … shelter us … estrange us?
What is the best conversation your board has ever had about change? What made it good?
What conversation does your board need to have now about change? What could make it good?