Friday, May 20, 2016

Change



Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. John F. Kennedy

Kennedy, or JFK, said these words in the middle of the 20th century when significant change was in the air. The rate at which things change in our current time would be mind-boggling to this former president. We must learn to deal with change and perhaps an ever accelerating pace of change at least for the near future as we stand nearly 16 and a half years into the 21st century.

Change can of course be good or bad, thrilling or challenging, life enhancing or so difficult we might wonder if we will survive the change. In a culture of change it is only the organizations and companies that are agile and themselves able to change quickly that will survive and thrive. To see the truth of such a statement one has only to look to energy companies in Calgary as they have reacted to a change in world oil prices.

What does this mean when we think of churches? We live in a world where we are all electronically connected and relationally disconnected; a world where people can travel across the city or across the world with ever greater ease; a world where leaders rise and fall on the whim of a local, national, or international following; and a world in which technology and media drive our monetary choices. The implications of these changes are vast, and yet most of our churches continue to function much as they did when JFK uttered his words regarding change. Churches do not tend to change rapidly. They are founded on ancient words that hold principles for all time. There is a tendency toward nostalgia and history. Few other disciplines (perhaps philosophy is another) hold such high regard for old words as opposed to new words on a subject. Certainly the Bible must be used as the founding document and the bedrock for the function of churches today; yet, why should the words of Augustine (354-430 CE) hold more sway than the words of Dallas Willard (1935-2013 CE)?

Are churches in North America (my only frame of reference) ready to embrace change for the sake of the ancient message? Can methodologies and practices change while the ancient work goes on? What new courses need to be charted? What experiments are necessary? What kinds of intentional community need to be fashioned so that the mission of the church survives in a world of change?

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” 
― Barack Obama

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” 
― Eric RothThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Screenplay


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