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As Long as it's Someone Else'sby Duane Mabee on June 29, 2018
Years ago, I was recruited to change the way a company handled state legislation. Part of that project involved changing the corporate culture. I won’t go into detail because you would find it quite boring.
During the first year, I spent much of my time learning the company’s culture by interviewing people throughout the organization. I heard a lot about things that needed to change. I knew change would be difficult, but I wasn’t completely prepared for what happened. As new processes and procedures went into place, I would get angry phone calls. Each conversation usually began something like this, “I thought you were going to change what so-and-so is doing. I didn’t know you were going to change MY stuff.” I learned a valuable lesson. Most people like the idea of change as long as you’re changing what they think is wrong with someone else. Change isn’t easy, especially when it requires me to change.
One of the CD’s the Fanning the Flame team has listened to is “Creating a Climate for Change”. You can listen to it on our website. In that message, Harry Reeder, III, says that the church is the most difficult organization to change. It’s true and there are some understandable reasons for that. However, organizations must change. If they don’t, they will die.
Thom S. Rainer in Autopsy of a Deceased Church wrote, “The most pervasive and common thread of our autopsies was that the deceased churches lived for a long time with the past as hero. They held on more tightly with each progressive year. They often clung to things of the past with desperation and fear. And when any internal or external force tried to change the past, they responded with anger and resolution: ‘We will die before we change.’ And they did.” Generally, the reason churches cling to the past is that God worked in a mighty way in their past. They deeply desire to see God work again in their church the way that He did back then – and that is a good thing. God, however, rarely repeats Himself. He works in new ways in new times. The most important thing is to have God work, not to have Him work in the same way that He did once before.
To make changes well, change agents must recognize that God did work in the past. He used the practices of the church in the past to do great things. We must honor the past and what God did in the past by remembering and celebrating the many ways God used the church in the past, (Kricher). We should never dishonor what God did by only talking about what was wrong. But, you don’t honor the past well by clinging to it and refusing to change. To effectively honor the past, we need to plan for the future so that the church continues to have a positive impact on future generations. We best honor what God has done in the past, by allowing Him to continue to work through us in new ways to advance His kingdom into the future. By God’s grace, let’s honor God by celebrating what He has done through North River. Let’s also honor God by preparing for what He wants to continue to do through North River long into the future.