There is a tendency to permit individualsÂ to exert inordinateÂ control over the leadership of the church when they behave in an immature manner. While there is a scriptural command not to cause another brother to stumble, it is another thing all together when a member threathens to sin in response to a church leadership decision.
This morning I received an e-mail from someoneÂ who made the following statement regarding the upcoming change in service order – “. . . if this change causes even one person to leave, it’s not worth it.”
I feel that this statement presents issues of perspective significant enough to warrant a public response.
I do not believe we should ever let a single hypothetical person stand in the way of making changes – just as we should not throw ourselves into change to benefit a single hypothetical person.
The potential person, or â€œpeopleâ€ (from gossip such as â€œpeople are sayingâ€) are words coming on behalf of a phantom whose power to squash and stall has already been given far too much authority in many places.
I understand your concern that the change may cause some people to stop attending. Frankly, I EXPECT that A FEW people who have been attending WILL STOP ATTENDING after the switch. However â€“ only one person who is attending has informed me or any of the other elders (to my knowledge) that they INTEND TO STOP attending.
I also know that there are people who are not attending now who are excited about the switch and HAVE TOLD US that they will START ATTENDING after the switch. To not switch would mean losing those who would have started attended. (This is NOT the REASON for the switch – this is a discovered benefit from the planned switch.)
If a member were to stop attending due to the switch â€“ without coming to leadership – after all we have gone through to get the word out and ask for feedback â€“ then I would have to question what membership means to them. A person with such an attitude and understanding of what it means to be a member is not really â€œyoked upâ€ to the church in the first place. Church membership has become a “what’s in it for me” rather than a “what can I do/give for my fellow member’s good” positioning.
The change of service order represents a lot of added difficulty for me. It is already hard enough for me to get there by 9:15 with everything going on around here. I have come to depend on the Sunday School hour to make sure everything is set with everyone else who has a part in the service. So â€“ I am going to be losing about an hour’s worth of prep time, as well as many other things. But for me, the up-side of the change is well worth the added inconvenience.
The upside is not primarily for me. It is in part, because I (like every member) have to continually be actively engaged in our God’s process of progressive sanctification. But the primary gain is for others – for those who need to move from bottles to soft food to steak. It is a giving up of convenience and comfort for the sake of others â€“ and I would hope that this is the nature of the response from the membership as a whole.
Covenant community is about God first – the first part of the great commandment is loving God with all we are and worshipping God together. The second part is loving others God’s way – bringing into our â€œchurch timeâ€ those things which are best for the person beside you. FBC isnâ€™t being structured around what is most convenient for members â€“ it is being reprogrammed to bring a structure that is more conducive to produce a â€œbuilding upâ€ of what is most necessary into the lives of our members.
If our goal were to never affect people negatively, then we would be foolish to ever change anything. But â€“ as Einstein stated â€“”The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over, and then expecting different results.” To not change anything is taking a stand that things do not need to change, and should not change. To pray/plan/reach/hope for any changes in the effect requires changes in the cause(s) â€“ so to pray and plan for a more unified and mature heart of discipleship among the membership is impossible without changing something.
If the standard is set at â€œanyone leavingâ€ as a failure â€“ then the standard is too short term and we will fail. I can be a prophet here and guarantee it. Some people may leave simply because it is a change . . . and they don’t like change . . . so they are “outta here”.
If however, the standard is set at the growth of individual disciples (the primary reason for the switch) and the resultant building up of the Body over time, then we believe we are making an appropriate course correction.
Enough rambling. Thanks for the opportunity! :~)