Welcoming Change

For a lot of us, change brings feelings of uncomfortability, anxiety, and distress. 2020 has provided us with endless challenges in both our personal and professional lives, and lets be honest... there are still many changes to come before the year is out.  The fact is: change is hard. Even if its a good change; change is hard. 

I was at my kitchen table last night on a school virtual open house call (which is oxymoronic for sure!) But I was really impressed with the choice that this first grade teacher made to share with her students all the new and exciting things that had changed since the kids had last been at school. It was really quite a shock to the system, as most of the changes we are feeling are rarely shared in a positive light. 

The truth is, God loves the fresh and the new. He has promised us that he has new plans for our lives and for our ministry: "Forget about what's happened; don't keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I'm about to do something brand new. It's bursting out! Don't you see it? There it is! I'm making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands." [Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG]   

I feel like learned a few things last night from the upbeat manner in which my child's teacher shared the changes coming down the line. It reminded me of a few years ago, when I read the book "Killing Cockroaches" by Tony Morgan. It's a leadership book about keeping the main thing, the main thing. It's about not getting distracted and continually putting out one fire after another, but focusing on what lies ahead. In it, he asks: "How do we develop a culture where change is not only expected, but viewed as positive?" 

Here are three ways churches can embrace change in a COVID-19 world: 

1. Value missions over methods. It's all about fulfilling purpose rather than preserving traditions. We cannot be married to the ministry methods. The message doesn't change: We serve a risen Savior, He's in the world today! The mission shouldn't change: Go into all the world and preach the Gospel! But the methods must always change.

2. Value people over programs. Instead of filling the calendar with programs and events, churches will ask "How can we help as many people as possible move into a vibrant relationship with Jesus and then help them share life with others?" Relationships require time. So rather than just taking up time, the church, particularly in this environment, may have to stop some programs to focus on what's most helpful for allowing people to move into healthy relationships both inside and outside of the church.

3. Value action over analysis. We can spend so much time trying to develop the perfect solution or strategy, (or focus on the reasons it won’t work) that we never actually move forward. Whatever the idea is, sometimes we have to just try it. If it doesn't work, stop it. Analysis still has an important place in every ministry, but we need to find the right balance between facts and faith and let God lead us into unchartered waters.

Like the teachers who are beginning the 2020 school year in less-than-favorable conditions, we have a choice to make in our churches. We can cling to what we've always known and be upset that we can't go back there, or we can decide to positively embrace change and see what God will do. The choice is really up to you!
Pastor Milo


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