Retooling: Change vs. Stagnation


The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part XXXXVIII

The business world amazes me, particularly when someone is “on top of the business world” because of an innovative idea they have.  If they just stay with that idea, someone else will challenge it in a free market, improve on it, and soon put you out of business.  “Change” is a basic ingredient in the business world, for stagnation will eventually bring bankruptcy.  If Henry Ford stuck with only his Model-T Ford as the standard of his car, he would still have a market, but only to the nostalgic buyer, a very minimal market.  His business would have closed down by now!  The auto industry has new products, new gadgets, new improvements on their cars every year or they will not survive.  The car radio was replaced by the 8 Track, then by the cassette player, then CD player, then surround sound sub woofer deluxe sound systems, now talking GPS systems, and probably soon no-hand social networking communication capabilities while driving. All these have nothing to do with the engine, gears, tires, transmissions, etc., but all have become necessary products for change to increase sales, to sustain market life.  Change prolongs life in the business world; stagnation eventually spells disaster.

Why do we not think that this principle could or should also apply to the Church, one of the slowest institutions of change on the planet.  The evangelistic theme of the Church is “changed lives”, but should not the evangelist spirit also bring “change into our Churches”?   Should not the “evangelist” not only cry out to the lost, but also to the Church, “you must be born again”?  “Rebirth” is “Change”!  When the church becomes stagnant, it needs the evangelistic cry to bring it life.  Ask Nicodemus, the typical “church-person” of his day, doing all the right things in his religion for his God, even as a leader, but the evangelistic voice of Jesus told him, “You must be born again.”  At first he could not grasp the concept because of its literal meaning, but I am sure he finally “got it” which brought change in his life, or he would not be recorded in the Bible.

As religious people, we are repudiated by the cry of “you must be born again”, because we think we have it all together.  We think our spiritual birth is enough, but unfortunately rather than growth we often choose stagnation, happy at where we are in our lives and in our faith at the moment, and we get stuck!  Growth is not allowing ourselves to get stuck through constant change, or getting un-stuck through repentance, a turning of what doesn’t work to obediently following the Holy Spirit’s direction toward what does.  A body of water has to flow to continue to sustain life in it or it turns into the Great Salt Lake or the Dead Sea, so must we!  Instead of the stagnation of “religion” which we think brings safety and stability, “relationships” bring life flow, so we must ask ourselves, to we need change in our relationships to bring the flow?  Do we need a “rebirth”?

What is the “evangelistic cry” going forth to the Church today?  What is it saying? What is its plea?  What is the “evangelistic cry” saying to you as a believer today?  Let’s just not look at the lost (which is hard for the evangelistic spirit to do!), but lets look within and ask what is the Holy Spirit saying to us, believers in Jesus Christ, through the evangelistic spirit.  I would love to hear your comments on what you hear its cry to be?