When change happens too quickly, and we are not quite ready for any of it, we are always in danger of things going wrong. Change happens in all walks of life, whether at work, in the family, or even our relationships, however in my experience there is no more dangerous place for change quite like a church fellowship.
Since change will always happen in all walks of life, we must accept it and get used to the idea, but it is never a good thing to make changes without taking the other affected people along with you. If they are left behind, the intended changes can only partly be made, if at all! However, I believe the greater danger is that some will be so adamant about the benefits of change that the baby is thrown out with the bathwater. Not only does nothing positive happen, but we are left further back than we were before the change was proposed. There are times when doing nothing is better than any change.
Now here’s the dilemma. We dearly love in the Lord those who differ from our own views, and like them I want our church both local and general to grow, but…. what if those strongly held beliefs on each side do not come together, or agree? What if each side thinks the other has it partly or all wrong? On one corner the old timers who don’t want to change if it’s for change’s sake, and on the other side the younger progressive who wants the church to change in order to better relate to the world and the sinner? Both would agree that the end result of changed lives for the Kingdom is the most important outcome, but there needs to be some agreement in how we go about it!
An engineer is responsible in helping to make change happen, and in my case that would have been a new process or product introduced in an assembly line. The changes were usually obvious, needed, and went ahead without any difficulty. Occasionally however, a change would fail, either in part or the whole, and had to be cancelled. My experience was that undoing the change was more difficult, expensive, and took longer than the effort and time taken to put it into place. One of the real deep seated outcomes was the loss of confidence in the minds of the staff who operated the assembly. They rightly expected those with the authority and responsibility to think it through beforehand and get it right by the time it was implemented. My parallel is this: Much care is needed to prevent changes being made in a church fellowship which would create more problems than they would solve. This could show itself in regular attendees losing morale, confidence, respect, and sadly in some cases attendance. No one wants that! A rule of thumb is, the greater the proposed change, the greater the risk of it going wrong at least in part. It is worth remembering that human nature is the same as in Bible times, and more importantly that the Gospel still applies because:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8