We have 3 contributors for this posting. Each tries to stay within 250 words, and their views are presented in parallel and anonymously so you don't have preconceptions based on who they are (although you can probably guess!). No contributor looked at the other entries before writing, so these are independent thoughts.
We encourage you to read, think, and consider. Comment at the end if you'd like to add to the discussion. The comments are anonymous so that you can read them without preconceptions.
Without further delay, here is the first of our 3-way perspectives:
What is the purpose of change?
The church has changed quite a bit since I first came to know the Lord many years ago. Just as well as I would not enjoy having to robe up with a robed choir every Sunday night and work my way through sung evensong (you can still do this at Kings College Cambridge)
The church has changed many times in its history. It changed when Jews were joined by Gentiles. It changed when it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. It changed at the Reformation. It changed when John Wesley an Anglican priest/presbyter found his “heart strangely warmed” and wanted to share this with others.
But if “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), why should the church change? Do we proclaim a different gospel or a modern gospel adapting it to the times we live in? Do we remove those parts which modern or post-modern people find objectionable?
I think most of us at St Barnabas would not want to change the Bible message, but we would probably differ as to what changes are necessary or desirable to make this good news relevant to the people in our neighbourhood.
So as far as what we do already (Sunday worship, Alpha and small groups), I want to suggest that to begin with we try to understand the people who do come and those who do not come and see how different we may be from each other. And then we can begin to look at what should change.
I have come to accept that change is an inevitable part of life. In my career as an audio visual producer, I have had to completely change the way I work three times. The slide/tape shows of the 1980’s are gone. The analogue tape videos of the 1990’s gave way to new digital technologies in the 2000’s. I now face a second wave of new media technologies since 2010. Each decade I have had to both re-equip my studio … and my skills to stay current. Had I not … my business would be no more.
I am not alone… the American electronics giant Westinghouse recently announced that 80% of their current turnover has come from products which did not even exist just 5 short years ago!
I find change invigorant? I also believe we need to ask what are the “fresh forms of expression” that would attract and keep a new generation of Jesus followers at St Barnabas church.ating… not a burden. I grow as a person when I force myself to accept change. With change comes new learning opportunities… and growth. One can so easily get into a “comfort zone”… or perhaps even a “rut” by not embracing change. So… perhaps one purpose of change is growth.
In Hebrews 13:8 we read, “Jesus is the same yesterday, and today and yes… forever! This verse is a great comfort… as we take confidence in the unchanging love Jesus has for us.
I believe as a church, however, that we must give careful consideration to changes we could be making to keep our ministry fresh, alive and relevant? I also believe we need to ask what are the “fresh forms of expression” that would attract and keep a new generation of Jesus followers at St Barnabas church.
What is the purpose of change? To keep us from getting bored! No, seriously, I think this question is only hard because we don't like the answer.
First, if I personally don't change, I'm stuck with the inadequate person I am and I can't be all I was created to be. Second, if my circumstances don't change how can I grow in wisdom, experience, and service? Third, we only know value by the contrast that comes from change.
However, this post is about StB. This requires courage because we fear change. Change weakens our sense of control … we fear losing our comfort zone.
Yet it is one of the eternal paradoxes that our unchanging God is ever doing something new. That means, if we stay still we miss what He is doing. And He does new things for His purposes, and that is our very being: to worship Him and serve as we see the Father move.
Not all things change … we have valuable traditions. But think: tradition exists only because something was once new. If we idolize our traditions, we deny the very purpose of tradition which is to embody the fact that once upon a time there was a change!
If we let tradition undermine God's change, then we deny the reason tradition exist ... thats hypocritical. To really hold to tradition in the deepest sense means we must look for, and embrace God's change.
And my conclusion? Hold what is true, embrace what is new. God is constantly doing something new to reach all into our community: let it be said that we worked with God.