November 20, 2011 // Posted by Brad Hoffmann //
Recently I met with a couple of long-term church members. I enjoyed the conversation while learning things about them and about the church where I serve. Cool Spring has been a lifetime church home for them. I enjoyed their long-term family involvement perspective. I think it shed light on the unique nature of Cool Spring.
During the visit I asked, “How did you live through the transitions here at Cool Spring?” I think it’s an appropriate question to ask a long-term member who remained active through various periods of significant organizational change. Models and methods of ministry dramatically shifted and changed over the years. What once was a smaller rural congregation transitioned into a large suburban church. I found their answer quite compelling. “Things change,” they replied. How true is that statement? It was a simple reply to a complex set of circumstances. Their mindset demonstrated an attitude of adapting well to change. Things happen; stuff changes. You either fight change or choose to embrace change. In my opinion, people and organizations who more readily and willingly engage and adapt to change have healthier and more successful futures. The unwillingness to change promotes stagnation and organizational decline. Always seek relevant, purposeful, and intentional change.
The second response to the same question was even more revealing, “We’re reaching people.” I thought to myself, “Isn’t that what it’s about?” Reaching people with the gospel. All of a sudden the implications of their response came into view. Change happens regardless. It’s a part of life. You choose to resist or embrace. So many waste all their energy on trying to keep a memory that “once was” alive. What “once was” rarely is to be again. Memories are just that, snapshots of the past. Ours is to make new memories as insightful and dramatic. When the mindset is about reaching others, organizational focus isn’t on keeping the organizational roster of the club intact. More important than personal preference, traditions, or past successes was the fact people were being reached with the gospel. Folks, that’s kingdom thinking. Embracing change and reaching people with the gospel.
I think that’s why some churches succeed and others falter. What’s the mindset of the organization? Sure a leader can deploy opportunistic change and live passionately the pursuit of disciple making. But, it’s a much sweeter ride when a willingness for participatory change and a passion for others is in the organizational DNA.