Change is not an easy thing for institutions and organizations with established roots. “We’ve always done it this way” or “it didn’t work then, and it won’t work now” are heard throughout churches who are afraid of change when the status quo might be threatened or tested. Why is it so hard to embrace, or even consider change from an institutional perspective?
To understand the institution we must first understand the individual. Change is not something I have embraced with open arms. Allison and I have lived a life of change for the last 20 or so months. After deciding to go back to school I left a safe career as a government contractor to pursue full-time youth ministry. In the past month I left full-time youth ministry to return to the contacting world. Allison and I also welcomed a new addition to the family in August. To top it off, Allison has changed jobs too!
At times, the change we’ve experienced has been tough to deal with. Routines and habits have been forced to change. There’s been some kicking and screaming along the way but the life we have created would not be possible without the change we have embraced as a family.
“Religion” is often at its finest when it serves to anchor people in the midst of turbulent change – to be a safe harbor in the midst of a storm of change. The church has been an anchor for Allison and I as we embrace, and adapt, to the change presented to us. While you want your anchor to be secure and stable, from time to time it may serve the “ship” to reposition the anchor or to set sail for new waters. The same is true for the church.
Successful institutions are able to adapt and change to the communities needs as presented to the local congregation. When decisions concerning governing and polity by people who are hundreds of thousands away, the needs of the local congregation are often ignored at the expense of denominational politics. The ability to react quickly to changes and events throughout the local community and world provide “soil for the faithful future.” Congregations who are unwilling or unable to embrace change (and I do not mean the political flavor of the week) lack a faithful and fruitful future because the soil their ministries take root in lacks the nutrients and tilling required to grow.