Monday, August 13, 2007

Change is Emotional ...

Change creates all kinds of reactions and emotions no matter what is being changed. The old saying is "the only person who is excited about change is the baby with a dirty diaper." I am not ready to go that far, but it is a concrete fact that change will cause reactions. Change in the church seems to elicit big reactions and emotions. I don't know why that is true, but after 24 years of pastoral ministry I can assure you it is true. It doesn't always have to be big changes for big reactions and often times I am surprised by what causes the biggest reactions.

My observation tells me that we, yes that includes you, tend to applaud change in other people. We tend to think that there are changes that need to be made in other people, or in areas of the church, and when these are proposed we think it is a great idea. However we tend to be less enthusiastic when changes are proposed for us, or our area of the church.

Several years ago I had accepted a call to a church but had not yet arrived. In communication with some of the church leadership prior to my arrival I informed them of some changes I would be making as soon as I arrived. This was as per our agreement during the whole interviewing, praying, calling, accepting part of the process. The leadership had stated that they knew they needed to make a lot of changes to reverse the decline in the church and that they wanted me to have the freedom to make whatever changes were necessary. Everyone applauded this statement. That was until some of the changes were made known. I will never forget hearing of one man who came to a leader to express his "concern" (means he didn't like the change) over one of the changes. When he was reminded of the statement and agreement for me to make whatever changes were necessary. He responded with a classic, and I must admit very honest, explanation. He said I know he change things, I agree he should change things, I just didn't think this would be one of the changes. To that man's credit he was one of my biggest supporters while I pastored that church. But his response to that first change hits the typical feeling when changes are made in the church. "I think there are things that should be changed in this church. Let's change these things, as long as it not in my area or doesn't create change for me."

It has taken me several tries to create this post and I am still not satisfied with it, but it will never be perfect in expressing my thoughts so here it is. What do you think? How do you handle change? What is your default response to change?

We must continue to change to grow in our own spiritual life, in our relationships and in our church. We don't need to compromise the truth of the gospel, but we must keep changing our methods, our tools, our appearance and many other things if we want to be heard by the world we have been called to reach.

So here's to change. Here's to lively discussions about change. Here's to being open to considering change, even in ourselves.


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