Change! How do you respond when you read that word? Some relish the thought, and get super-excited at the opportunity to throw out all the old to bring in the new. Some perish the thought, using the old adage ‘We’ve always done it this way so why change now?’ This is common in a church context, except we put it a little more spiritually: ‘The gospel hasn’t changed, so why do we need to change?’
In reality, change in any context can be both positive and negative. Negative in that we live in fallen world and are inherently sinful, and thus “Everything in creation is subject to change,” and nothing is secure and steady. However, on a positive note, “God is in the business of change. He’s interested in making us like Jesus.” So let’s get used to the idea!
Sometimes if change is introduced with alarming regularity or for no apparent reason, then the results can be disastrous. But on the other hand, change can bring the opportunity for new ideas, new methods and new results. However, “There’s only one good reason to move a church toward change. Because the mission demands it.”
Just imagine for a moment that you’re planning on changing the seating layout for your Sunday meeting. (Some of you have curled up in horror just at thought – but bear with me!) How can you implement this change? Here are some simple ideas:
- Understand change: Why is the change necessary? What is your ultimate goal in making this change? Do you need to get more people into your hall? Are you accommodate more younger families or more elderly people, who perhaps need more space to move? Make sure you understand why this particular change is required.
- Plan change: What steps do you need take in order to make this change? Will you need more chairs? Will your proposed seating layout actually work in your space? You don’t want to set out a grand vision for change then find that it doesn’t work! Think it through first, and put a timeline in place (and stick to it!).
- Communicate change: How can you help your team or church members understand this change? Emails and social media can help, but in reality you can’t beat a good old face-to-face conversation. Perhaps the worst thing you can do with change is just to do it without getting others on board. Sure you might get some pushback, but you may also get some ideas to make the change even better. Talk to folk!
- Implement change: This is the fun bit – actually bringing in the change. Ideally get other people involved so you don’t have to do it all yourself. That way you can deal with questions or further improvements as you go along.
- Review change: Once your new chair set-up has been implemented, does it do what you wanted it to do? Try it for a bit, but ensure you look back, and see whether the change has brought the improvements you were looking for. If not, humbly revisit and work out where the issues are, and go through the cycle again.
Yes, God never changes, but God is also perfect and eternal. We are not – at least not yet! But for now, for the sake of the kingdom, let’s not be afraid to implement positive change. You never know – you might even learn to like it!
Tim Chester, You Can Change (Nottingham, Inter-Varsity, 2008), 21.
After serving on the pastoral team at Christchurch Newport for three years, Graeme completed a Theology Masters at Union School of Theology. Having previously worked in the finance and third sectors, he now works in GP practice management in South Wales. Married with two children, Graeme and his family attend The Bridge Church, Cardiff, where he serves in various areas including life group leadership, children’s ministry and on the finance committee.