Wineskins Archive

January 15, 2014

AfterGlow: Change Where It’s Needed (Mar – Jun 1994)

Filed under: — @ 4:18 pm and

by Phillip Morrison
May – August, 1994

“I’m disturbed because you fellows keep talking about change. I don’t think we need to change a thing.” The caller, an old friend, was polite but firm.

“You may be right, “ I replied. “Tell me about the church where you preach. Is everything going well?”

“Everything’s great,” he said, “we’re blowin’ and goin’.”

“Then I’m inclined to agree with you. If everything is great, maybe you don’t need to change anything. But where I worship there are still some things we need to improve, some changes we need to make.”

Why do people find change so threatening? I first pondered that question as a teenage, fledgling preacher for a country church. I was appalled to find a water bucket—metal, of course, with a metal dipper–parked at the preacher’s feet. My inexperience made concentration hard enough without children and adults alike coming in a steady parade to get a drink. And they all managed to clang the dipper against the side of the bucket!

The surprise of finding the water bucket was nothing compared to my shock at the resistance when I tried to get it moved. The back of the little building was no more than 50 feet away, but it might as well have been 50 miles. The building had been there since before the Civil War. Union soldiers had bivouacked there and carved their initials in the homemade benches. No one could remember when there hadn’t been a water bucket on the podium. And no one else was interested in moving it.

Where a church puts its water bucket is hardly a salvation issue. But a church so set in its ways that it will not adapt to changing needs may miss the opportunity to lead people to Jesus.

Change is often threatening because it is new. While the specific change may involve something new, the principle of change is as old as mankind. When God called Noah to build an ark, or Abraham to go to a new land, or Moses to lead God’s people, he was directing them to make more sweeping changes than we could imagine.

Jesus, however, calls us to make even greater changes—to change our minds, our hearts, our loyalties, our way of looking at everything. People who have been called to make such a drastic change that it can only be described as being born again should never again be afraid of change.

To advocate changing something just to prove that we can is spiritual immaturity. So is the stubborn refusal to make changes that are clearly needed. May God protect us from both extremes. Wineskins Magazine

Philip Morrison

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