We aren’t a patient people. Life has encouraged us to insist on getting what we want somewhere close to the minute we ask for it. We get our food fast, retrieve our mail in seconds, and have little patience for the moments those processes slow down. We want what we want…NOW!
So when we begin to pursue change in our church, we’d like to find some quick answers. Somehow another Sunday in what has always been seems unbearable. So we scour the internet shelves for someone’s key to effectiveness and hope we can quickly add water for best results.
But change…real change…doesn’t come.
If a church has been plateaued or declining on its growth curve, the change needed probably goes deeper than we might expect. While a few program adjustments or maybe a creative addition or two would be helpful, the deeper issues that can truly change the feel of our church won’t be touched by these surface remedies.
Relationships must begin to change. The years together under the steepled roof have left us with certain relational realities that people can sense when they worship with us. Unresolved conflicts that may be a decade old still linger in the air like a musty smell. We may not be battling those things on the surface, but a guest can tell if the people of the church are truly connected or not.
Time also has a way of bringing several different ideas of the church’s purpose, vision, or road to effectiveness into play. People who just want to change a program or two and hopefully see sudden growth often aren’t ready to revisit deeper questions before finding the right path. But, the real road to change has to start by choosing a destination and agreeing to ride in the same car to get there.
Real change starts with people loving people. Now, I’m not talking about loving the first-time guests. The first people we have to start loving is each other. Old walls need to come down. Old hurts need to mend. And as they do, we can find a road to walk that can lead to real change for our church.
Fact is…the only way for our church to change is for us to change. And as God begins to change our hearts toward one another, something else begins to change…OUR CHURCH!