Change and Growth


I ran across this in article called Why Do People Hate Change? earlier this week,

Why do people hate change? Because most people feel comfortable doing what they have always been doing. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” they say. Psychologically speaking, it’s not just that people fear change, (although they absolutely do) It’s also that they genuinely believe what they’ve been doing, and how they’ve been doing it, is the best possible way to do it. And the longer they’ve been doing it this way, the better, more efficient, more economical, etc., it is (or so they believe).[1]

I feel like this is an apt description of many churches. Stop and think about it, we have been Sunday school the same way for over a century, we have been doing worship services basically the same way for a couple of centuries, and most other aspects of church life are ingrained in such a way as to require a two-thirds vote of six committees to change a light bulb.

These are not new observations. Churches and church leaders and writers and theologians have been talking about this for years now. Yet, the church is still in decline and churches are by and large continuing to do the same thing. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is the general mantra and for those shouting it things aren’t broken for them. The fear of change, the fear that if things were done differently, we might not understand them, relate to them, stops people in their tracks. Even more, the idea that we are already doing the right thing and there is no arguing with it keeps us from even considering the possibility of change. That said, not all change is good change. Somethings that change, change for the worse. We are human and humans are fallible creatures. Not all our ideas are good ones, not all our changes are for the better.

Change is a loaded word, full of meaning that is sometimes good, sometimes bad. But what if we replaced the idea of change, especially for change sake, with the idea of growth. Paul talks in 2 Corinthians 5:17 about us being born as new creations. The writer of 1 Peter talks about growing into salvation. Jesus ministry with the disciples was all about helping them grow into being leaders for the church to come. The book of Acts is full of stories of how the early church (especially Peter and Paul) grew to be more Christlike and led others to do the same, adapting their methods and sometimes their theology to reach the world as God was leading them.

We don’t need change for change sake. We do need growth for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Sometimes growth is painful. Sometimes growth is uncomfortable. Sometimes growth leads us to people and work that we would like to avoid. By the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit, we are called embrace the pain and discomfort. We are called to go to those who others would let go on in their pain and hurt. We are called to imitate a counterculture, revolutionary itinerant preacher from Galilee who went to the places no one wanted to go, to see the people no one wanted to see, and offer to them what no one else wanted them to have: the love of God and neighbor and the peace of restoration to God.

If Jesus did it, can we do any less?