Church is all about change

“Whoa there, Pr. Matthew! What you mean that the church is all about change? Churches don’t change, don’t you know – or at least they don’t change fast. There are certain ways that we do things. There is an order to maintain. Where do you get off claiming that the church is all about change?”

Pretty simple. We claim life, death, resurrection. If that isn’t change, I don’t know what is. So often we think life, death, resurrection is something out of the ordinary, huge, and only happening at the end of time. But that’s only because the life, death, and resurrection that we encounter in our daily lives is so normal that we don’t even notice the life, death, and resurrection.

Here in Pennsylvania, we experience four seasons. And throughout the year, we see a cycle of life, death, and resurrection take place in nature. Yet how many of us dismiss that as not being about life, death, and resurrection?

We experience life, death, and resurrection when we begin and end relationships, when we start and end new training schedules, when we start and leave jobs, when we cook food, when we see children grow, when we go through an educational program, when we go through our normal weeks. They all have an ebb and flow of life, death, and resurrection.

And this all relates to the idea of transformation. The church’s message is about transformation. Transformation does not happen without change.

So here’s the question – why shouldn’t someone assume that the church isn’t all about change when what has been proclaimed for centuries is entirely based on change?

Why is it that it is assumed that the church will be the last hold out for any type of change that is occurring? How does that match up with our proclamation of life, death, and resurrection?

While we proclaim this message, do we actually believe it in practice?

I do. And I am arguing that the very character and essence of the church is about change. I am arguing that people who are disciples change – it’s the very core part of what disciples do. You really can’t be a disciple without change. Discipleship, according to Jesus, is about dying to self so that new life can take hold. That’s Jesus saying that to follow him means that you will change. Jesus said that any who would follow him would lay down their life, pick up their cross, and follow him. That’s not change just happening to someone, embracing it. Rather, that’s proactively changing. To be a disciples mean to proactively seek change. And the church is called to proactively seek change in order to follow the one it claims to worship.

And that means that our churches should not resist change because resisting change goes against the very core identity of what church is about. A church resisting change is not a church – it is something else.

Humans often resist change because change means a loss. It could be a loss of knowing what will happen. It could mean a loss of a sense of control. It could mean a loss of relationship. It could mean a loss of status quo, or comfort, or predictability, or who knows what else.

And yes, change means loss. But change also means gain. We gain a great deal when we change. We gain learning and knowledge and information. We gain relationships. We gain freeing us from old habits that do not serve us any longer. We gain opportunities. We gain fresh perspectives. We gain humility. We gain life. The gains always outweigh the losses.

Church, it’s time to embrace who you are and what you are all about. And here’s the best part. Over the last couple of years, during this pandemic, you know what you have been – you have been church. We’ve seen incredible amounts of change due to the pandemic. We’ve seen innovation. We’ve seen creativity.

Change can be scary. But change is guaranteed to happen. Embracing it is the better path. We gain more from embracing change than resisting change.

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