One of the most important issues regarding change in the church is to know the difference between what can change and what should never change. What are the negotiables versus the non-negotiables, the variables versus the invariables?
God’s Word never changes. God, His character and truth, remain the authoritative standard for all time.
The church’s purpose to love God and love others never changes. Love is an overriding theme throughout Scripture.
Methods, forms and strategies for reaching God’s purposes and teaching God’s Word often must change to meet the needs of the moment and the times in which we live, as well as the people we serve. The Apostle Paul said, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Cor. 9:22).
Being able to distinguish between the two provides perspective when presented with change. Failing to distinguish between the two often brings problems. Many divisions in churches have stemmed from changes made in methodology, forms or strategies … the negotiables rather than the non-negotiables.
This brings us to some questions we must ask:
- How well are we communicating what is most important?
- How much are we building into our churches the need to line up all we do under God’s purposes for us?
Look at Jesus for an example. When He laid out the greatest commandments, He not only stated what was most important but reinforced it by adding “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt. 22:36-40).
We must do the same, putting everything else we do under the banner of love … love for God and love for people.
1) We must use our purpose to evaluate or assess where change is needed. Make sure the reason for changing lines up with your purpose.
Is what you are doing the best way to show love to God or love for people? Or, can you change in ways that deepen that love, that better meet needs?
2) We must promote change in ways that live out our purpose. Make sure the process for managing change lines up with your purpose.
Are you using a process that demonstrates love? Remember, love always protects (1 Cor. 13:7).
3) We must react to those who resist change in ways that do not contradict our purpose. Make sure the attitudes in changing line up with your purpose.
Are you exercising patience, kindness, and all the other qualities of love in 1 Corinthians 13, with everyone? Are you humbly and respectfully responding to those who resist?
When Jesus tells us to love our neighbor, he did not provide exceptions. Rather, Jesus defines who our neighbor is through the parable of the Good Samaritan as those who are different from us, those whom the world might consider enemies. This, therefore, suggests that we reach out with love and compassion even to those most resistant to change.
How deliberate are you in the change process to make sure the change not only lines up with your church purpose but also reflects it?
For Further Study: Church Purpose Ministry Manual
Learn from One Another: Comment below what you have done in your church or ministry to stress the need to focus on what is truly important.