Learning to Change
Last week I found an e-mail in my inbox from a fellow who didn’t like the verbiage on the cover of CHRISTIAN STANDARD’s May 20 issue. “Learning to Change” was the headline. It led to the lead article about medium-size churches: “Facing the Challenge of Change.”
Throughout my ministry I’ve been advocating for change. After all, isn’t that what spiritual growth is? But this dear gentleman was upset by our praise of change. After a long rehearsal of his conversion and decision to go to Bible college in the late 1940s and a litany of his ministry since then, he got to the point of his complaint. I quote:
We hear it said, in the more recent ”Church Growth” decades, “We must change our methods, but not our message.” I do not believe that! I don’t think it is possible to change our methods without changing our message. I believe the Great Commission is the message and the method. It will work, or can successfully work, in any society anywhere in the world in every age until time ends.
I believe it is a discredit to God to think that he gave a worldwide commission, without a worldwide method, for accomplishing it until the Judgment Day. We do not need to create new methods, only carry out the divine method, which is not being taught or very well obeyed!
Am I beside myself? Am I way off the track? If so, I would like to have it explained. As you can see, I don’t think modern-day thinking is on track.
Frankly, I knew some people think this way, but I had never heard it so articulately expressed before. I was nice to him, but in the middle of thanking him for his note and congratulating him for his long ministry and having raised children who are serving the Lord faithfully, I added this:
In short, you’re saying that the methods used in the 1950s were straight from the Bible, without any influence of culture or geography or history on them, right? Would you include Sunday evening evangelistic services in that list? Or Sunday school? Or Children’s Day? Or Vacation Bible School? Or revivals? Or hymn sings? Or gospel quartets? Or chalk talks? Or puppet ministry? Or printed curriculum for Bible study and teaching? Or the CHRISTIAN STANDARD?
Each age has adapted methods and created new ones to reach a new generation, it seems to me. I stand with you in fear when I see ancient truths discarded in favor of new ideas. But I can’t believe that my grandchildren won’t be reaching folks with the timeless gospel in ways that never occurred to me.
So how do you think I did? And what have you decided about what shouldn’t change, and what must, as we do the Lord’s work?