I like to use the analogy of moving to a new home as an example of a different perspective on change in the church. Military families, on the average, move every three years. They move across the country and across the world. There are times when not only the location changes, but the language and culture as well. How do these families cope? Granted there are some who do not adjust as there are some in our churches who do not cope well with change. Ready or not, it happens.
Let’s take a look at some initial steps a military family goes through when they adjust and look forward to each change of house and location:
- Tell family and friends the news about the move.
- Begin to assess what will be needed or not needed in the next location.
- Make plans to get to know the new community.
- Meet new neighbors and establish new found relationships
- Seek ways to get involved in the new community. Many times activities will be different depending on the location and the culture.
- Be open to trying new foods, inviting new friends to get to know you, and learn about the new community.
- Prepare for the move with a positive attitude seeking new adventures.
In most places in the country, the look and feel in our communities is changing. When you reflect on this list of initial steps taken for a move, think about moving towards new ministries to stay in synch with the changing culture of the church. Which of these steps would you choose first if you were asked to move the faith community in a new direction? How does the fact that change is inevitable in all other places help you recognize the changes needed in the church?
My husband and I have lived in 11 houses in the last 35 years in different states and different countries. As I write this blog, we are in the process of moving again. The painter is blasting music, there is a person measuring rooms to replace carpeting, and I am sitting in an empty room with my laptop on an old tabletop trying to concentrate while thinking about change in our lives and how it can apply to change in the church.
Change invades every part of our lives so it is a good idea to adjust, reflect on the past, and move on with a positive attitude and an enthusiastic eye on the future.
It is never easy but I have often found that until you take active steps towards it, you cannot fully grasp what is in store for you.
When we moved to Japan, I cried all the way there. When we moved back to the States, I cried all the way home. What once seemed scary and foreign soon became a natural part of our lives. So it can be for the church as we adjust to new ways of being the church. How exciting. Now that is something to celebrate!