Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part II
We seldom run towards change; we flee from it. Why? Stability and comfort are found in the familiar. Fearful of the unknown, we seek control. Historically, the church has disciplined, expelled, and even burned at the stake those who advocated drastic change.
The church still sings hymns by composer dead for over 150 years. The order of worship has remained the same for hundreds of years. For centuries the church celebrated mass in Latin, a dead language no longer spoken by anyone except the church.
Traditions are part of religion’s tapestry. Tradition and oral history still rule the day in the Jewish faith. Even in Jesus’ day in a Temple with a functioning priesthood who celebrated festivals and feasts God’s Presence was missing, so they relied on their traditions to bring stability. They still do today!
The church was skeptic of the Jesus and Charismatic Movement that impacted my spiritual life, opposing the principle of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, and speaking in tongues.
The older one gets, the more one resists change. When set in one’s ways, one leans on the dependable and avoids the unpredictable. This mindset usually opposes change and a spirit of revival.
What would happen if a movement of God affected the church as it did to Judaism in Jesus’ day? 60 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Temple and Jerusalem would be in ruins, and Israel would be a scattered, homeless, persecuted people for 2,000 years. Rabbis, not priests, would maintain oral history, holidays, and hold on to their traditions to maintain their faith. Judaism looks nothing like it did in Jesus’ day.
Revival produces change that often destroys existing structures while building new ones. During revival the doctrine of the Priesthood of Believers has challenged the clergy/laity structure of the church. Martin Luther advocated the Priesthood of Believers but was unwilling to change existing church structure when revival did occur.
Since the 1800’s, the five fold has reemerged in the church through revivals but has been opposed by the clergy who later embraced them by making them hierarchal offices of leadership. Can the church embrace the possibility that maybe evangelists, shepherds, teachers, prophets, and apostles are not offices or titles but diverse passions, desires, and points of view found among normal believers in Jesus? What would happen if the church took seriously the call of Ephesians 4 to “equip the saints for works of service”? That would require a tremendous amount of change and new mindsets!
Would my local church embrace such a metamorphic change? Could it lay aside old structures that once were effective and useful for newer structures that would be built on peer relationships? These are the questions we will ask and attempt to address in upcoming blogs. Is this all hypothetical theology and paradigm prognostication, or should we be taking the question of “Should or shouldn’t my local church embrace change?” seriously?