Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part III
The American church finds itself numbed by affluence. “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” (Revelation 3:17) Yet it is experiencing spiritual decay, complacency, severe apathy, and has become ineffective.
Today, the health clinics and hospitals founded by the church to meet the needs of the poor have become huge private, for profit, health conglomerates. Even the government’s efforts through the Affordable Health Care Act have dwarfed any of the church’s attempt.
Churches were known for taking care of the poor, but now the secular government has taken on the cause. Soup kitchens have given way to the Federal Food Stamp Program. Orphanages replaced by Children’s Social Services. Caseworkers and probation officers replaced Christian ministries while the homeless and mentally ill have been abandoned by both the church and the government.
The prophetic voice of Revelation 3:17 cries out, do you “not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” In spite of this warning of revelation, the church is still slow at embracing change and being relevant.
I have been a product of Christian church culture all my life by being raised, attending, and being active in church. I know nothing else. What scares me is that I find myself leery to embrace change the older I get, yet after experiencing abusive church leadership several times, I find myself currently not attending any form of institutionalized church. Instead my wife and I met with another couple around a round dinner table while experiencing a time of healing, spiritual revitalization, and trust building. The Lord is showing us the power of building relationships in Jesus with each other. After much discussion, crying on one another’s shoulders, praying, seeking the Lord, and just hanging out, we have learned to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us his written (Logos) and living (Rhema) Word. We have again been challenged to “trust the Holy Spirit,” something we had lost when enabled under abusive leadership. Because of embracing change, I now feel like a bird in flight, freed from his cage of religious security, while soaring into a new faith adventure with others.
Not only is the church slow to embrace change, but so am I, because change produces challenges, conflicts, transitions, uncertainty, unexpected surprises, and unpredictability. It forces you to forfeit control to faith in Jesus and the leading of His Holy Spirit.
I thought this blog was about the church, but it is also about me personally, for the church and I are interchangeable if it is built on relationships, which are central to the gospel. After a life centered in church culture, I find change also difficult. Yes, changing church culture is a big deal, its personal, and can be difficult.