At the end of May, I went back to Provost to visit my Mom for a couple of days. While I was there, I rode with one of my nephews as he was seeding canola with an air drill. This newly acquired piece of equipment can do things that were impossible with the equipment we had when I was farming. It seeds directly into standing stubble, placing the seed and some starter fertilizer off to the side of the row while placing a larger portion of nitrogen fertilizer, which encourages growth and yield, in the centre of the row. This change in seeding technology was driven by necessity. Farmers in that dry part of the world need to conserve as much moisture as they can to grow profitable crops in this age of high input costs, and applying all the seed and fertilizer in one pass enables them to do that. I was amazed at how much things have changed since I was farming.
We live in a world where things are constantly changing and the pace of change is accelerating. Johannes Gutenberg began using the printing press in Europe in 1439 and mass-produced books and newspapers became the primary form of communicating news and ideas for centuries. Initially developed for military and research purposes, the Internet became more widely available in the early 1990’s and now it is the primary form of communicating news and ideas. Once profitable bookstores need to sell other types of merchandise to stay alive. Here is another example: The first-generation iPhone was released on June 29, 2007, only ten years ago. Can you imagine what life would be like for us today without smart phones?
In his 2006 TED talk, Rick Warren said, “When the speed of change around an organization is faster than the speed of change within the organization, the organization becomes irrelevant.” Change is a challenge for Christian churches because it pulls us out of our comfort zone. In one of the churches that I served in Saskatchewan, many of the people did not want changes in the church because they wanted the church to be a refuge from the frantic pace of change outside the church. But the church that resists change is in danger of becoming irrelevant to the world around us.
We need to change for the sake of our mission. Jesus has commissioned us to lead people into a growing relationship with him. We change because we love the people who are outside the church and we love our children more than we love our own personal preferences. We actively support things that we do not like for the sake of our mission. The church is in a battle for the souls of people and being in a battle means making sacrifices for the sake of the mission.
Our God does not change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) Our message does not change. But our methods and our environments must change for the sake of the mission.
It will take all of the various generations in our church of us working together to effectively carry out our mission in a world that is changing at an increasing rate.
It’s not about us. It’s all about Jesus and his mission.
In Christ’s love,