Change or Die!

Stan Russell   -  

Continuous change is necessary to be effective.
Change is really hard for some people. They don’t want to see the old methods go away. Familiarity brings them comfort. But the old always goes away and the new always comes. You can bury your head in the sand, but it just causes problems down the line. If a business goes with the same methods forever it will eventually dry up and die out. Technology, culture shifts, trends and more affect the bottom line and productivity.  Change or die!  It sounds so harsh, but there is truth there. I am talking about methods. Principles never change. You need to be honest, you need to have integrity and you must be fair. But methods need to be changed and more frequently than most want to admit.
Not changing methods along the way will lead to a business or church plateauing and eventually declining. Take the church for instance. If we keep the same old songs and music, the same décor and the same service schedule, we end up accidentally conveying that this is the place that will never change and you can count on it. It’s like we are saying, “This is a great history museum and if you want to see what things were like thirty years ago come here.” If you want a church that is full of only grandmas and grandpas, this is a strategy that is really going to work well, but be ready to close it down and sell the place when the last one dies. No change is the reason why we have more diapers in the pews than in the nurseries these days. Ok, that was a little harsh, but I just couldn’t resist. I love grandmas and grandpas. I know they are a vital part of the church and I want them to share the wealth of their wisdom and experiences with a new generation. But if you want their kids and their grandkids to come to church, you’d better be changing along the way. As a leader it would be best if you teach the grandmas and grandpas to embrace change. It is the only way you are going to reach their families that they so desperately want to follow Jesus. Yes, keep it about Jesus. Yes, keep it focused on the grace and truth of the bible. Yes, keep it biblically principled. But change your methods to reach every age and every generation.
When is the last time you asked yourself, “What is the music the average person listens to these days? What is the best way to communicate the message to them? What kind of atmosphere would make them comfortable to walk into?”
In Isaiah 43:18-19a, God says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”  God’s not afraid of the new. In 1 Chronicles 12:32, the bible says, “…the men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” It is not a sin to understand the times and adjust. It is possible to be current without compromise. I like the saying: “The methods are many, the principles are few. The methods can change, but the principles never do.”
So if you are a pastor you can feel free to ask yourself, “What does our church website look like compared to the websites the average person visits today? What does the sanctuary media technology we use look like compared to what the average person is used to seeing? What are the social media tools that people are currently using? Which ones are the young people on the most?”  These are not unspiritual questions. I suggest that you go on a search to find the methods that will work the best today.
Okay, you are somewhat convinced. If so, try a few of these ideas to make sure you are ministering to all the age groups in the 21st century.

Visit a great church that is effectively reaching all the generations.
Go to a church seminar that teaches pastors to reach this culture effectively.
Sit down with a group of college students and ask them, “What could the church do to reach your generation more effectively?”
Visit church websites that are awesome and find out who created that website.
Check out your local coffee shops to see the atmospheres that unbelievers are comfortable walking into today.
Read a good book about the importance of change in the church. (One you can read is, Who Stole My Church? by Gordon McDonald.)
Be prayed up, studied and ready to deliver a powerful and relevant sermon every time you have a service at your church.

Grace and Truth,
Stan Russell