I’m so sick of everyone trying to get me and my church to change! I keep getting sales calls and flyers and email ads promoting the next program that will help us do a better job of reaching our neighborhood, teaching our kids, embracing the young adults, enfolding new members, caring for the sick, serving the poor, worshiping with reverence and exuberance and perfectly following the will of God—all at the same time!
Can’t we just settle in and “do church” or better yet—“be the church” for a little while? Constant change is exhausting and it strips away our ability to rest, revel and rejoice in the work and worship of the moment. Some churches go through difficult shifts in worship style or structure only to be quickly coerced into yet another adjustment before the people have an opportunity to settle in and be blessed by the first change.
Yet, we just can’t sit still. At least, not for very long. Sir Newton told us a long time ago that bodies at rest will stay that way unless something intentionally gets them moving again. And none of us want our churches standing stock still for the rest of time.
The church of Jesus continues to discover this truth for herself. The Reformer’s slogan was Semper reformanda: always reforming! We CRC folk might hold tightly to our traditions, but one of our most treasured traditions is the practice of allowing ourselves to be reformed, re-shaped, renewed by God in our personal lives and in our corporate worship.
However, we all know that change for change’s sake lacks wisdom, and change moving faster than the heartbeat of the people lacks hospitality. As much as we believe in change and need it to become the formed people of God, we also know we need wisdom, grace, tenderness and an ability to revel in the present even as we move toward the future.
As I approach Reformation Sunday, I’m thankful for the changes our church has made that make worship planning a collaborative adventure and the changes that have encouraged people of all ages to love each other by singing each other’s songs. And I hope that sense of adventure and love for each never changes!
What changes have shaped and molded your church in the recent past? What are some of the ways you are leading your congregation through the ongoing reformation of God’s people?
O breath of love, come breathe within
Renewing mind and will and heart
Come, love of Christ, teach us to love
Revive your church in every part. --Bessie Porter Head