Change is Never Easy: Even When It’s Needed

Who likes change? On the surface many people think that the younger generations, and some of us in leadership often like change, because it seems that they are the ones often promoting change. The reality is no one likes change. No one likes the work it takes to make change. No one likes to let go of what is familiar and comfortable, and shift to harder work and new ways of thinking. The truth is change is always hard.

However, alternatives to change are not only hard to swallow, they are deadly. We are talking about churches, but think for a moment about health? If someone is told that they must change their lifestyle from overeating, smoking, drinking two-liter’s of soda a day, or they will die people sometimes wake up. Then for others it takes surviving a heart-attack to wake up and change. Then there are the stubborn die hard people who refuse to listen to any of the warnings.

One of my funniest memories was visiting a nursing home where an elderly woman sat coughing. She had an oxygen tube in her nose, was breathing hard, and sitting in a wheelchair. Then I had to keep from laughing, because in her hand was a smoldering cigarette, which she had just taken a puff from. I didn’t laugh, because it was very sad to see. This unfortunately is the case for many people who are faced with needed change in their lives and in the life of their church.

I know I haven’t written in a while, but you will be hearing more from me as we move forward. You see my church has been facing our own need of change for quite some time. This past summer the leadership were able to open up and share their feelings, as we read through Thom Rainer’s book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive. This book caused others to see what I was seeing for some time, we were already quickly headed toward death, if we did not change.

Change takes time to adjust to, and we all admitted that we do not like change. However, most of us in the end admitted it would take drastic change and a new direction. We felt that as Scripture says, “you can’t put new wine in old wine skins.” We also could see that we needed to die to who been in order to live, following God’s lead of “Dying to self in order to live for Christ”. The entire DNA of the church had to be changed, and we needed to let go of our own comfort zones, and that would mean letting go of a structure now 110 years old.

I’ll share some of this journey with you in the coming days and weeks. But today I want you to know, from someone who is going through major changes and preparations to become re-birthed in most ways. It is not easy to change. Here are some brief lessons and encouragements to pass on and hold to.

  • Listen and move with God, which may mean slowing down or speeding up

    • We have moved a Speed that seems quick on the outside, but as I said God was working in my heart for some years, and as I found in others as well.
    • There have been times when I hoped we could be further down the road, but we needed to allow people time to process information.
  • If God has called you he will sustain you through the process

    • Fear and second guessing are very destructive and destructive forces. Satan will try to make you second guess your every thought and decision. However, if you have prayed thoroughly and know it is God’s will. You can rely on God’s promises to always be with us.
    • As, we have made decisions and prepared to take votes on name changes and worked through questions, I’ve been faced with with some times of wondering how it was going to go. Since, we are still in the process of shutting down to begin again in the new year I don’t have all the answers. That’s one of the scariest parts of change, we never will have all the answers. However, we follow and trust the God who does have all the answers. Hours of prayer and devotions have helped me face change and the fears that naturally come with it with confidence and peace.
  • Prayer is your most important action through the process

    • I will not tell you a fairy tale, there is work involved on your part for change to occur. No one has ever lost 100 pounds or built a new mission for God without sweat and hard work. However, the most important priority in seasons of change it your personal prayer life. Jesus said, “faith can move mountains”, but in the book of Acts I see that most of the greatest movements, changes in direction, and outreach started in prayer not work. The work of stepping out followed God’s guidance and encouragement, which came through serious times of prayer.
  • Not everyone will understand you, and not everyone can go with you
    • It would be great to say that when we get to our new building, our new destination, our new lifestyle everyone we love and are connected to will be there with us. That is simply not how life works.
    • First, some people with you, even at the start of the journey may realize that They simply can’t go with you, because they don’t understand. I can sincerely say it isn’t easy to watch people you know, love, respect, and sincerely care about not go. I think to Moses in the Bible, and realize that the reality was that many of the Israelite never really wanted to go from Egypt. They got out in the desert and couldn’t see for themselves what God was saying to Moses. Then their fear caused years of grumbling and complacency. In the end they caused a whole generation to die in the dessert.
      • It may be hard to let others go their own way, but if they really don’t understand what God is doing in you and those going with you. You must do the loving thing and help them move to where God can keep working in their lives in another place.
      • You may keep their friendship in the end by letting them go.
    • Unfortunately the lesson from the children of Israel also has a deeper consequence for others who may not join you. That is that they are not actually in tune with God at all and may just pull us backward if we left them.
      • I think of so many people over the years that I have prayed for to break their addictions, or poor habits. I’ve watched time and time again, as someone left drugs, alcohol, and even poor dieting. They seem to do well, but then they meet up with someone from their past or think they can help someone from their past. Instead of helping them, they soon find themselves being pulled back into places where they had been. That was the danger of the the Children of Israel, as many wanted to live in the past and not in the promise God planned.
  • Be grateful for what God is doing and Celebrate Even the Small Victories

    • This is a good reminder no matter where we are in life or the journey of change. Be thankful and celebrate often. People too often forget to thank those who have helped, even those who may decide they can’t make the journey with you. Send a card, give a call, and recognize what God is doing in the lives of people. Thank God for the victories no matter how small, because it will help you to remember He is the one providing the way. It also, keeps you excited to be watching where God’s working next. Celebrate together too. It’s not just saying thanks but sharing it with others that becomes a strength to one another as you journey with others.
      • Celebrate when God is saving souls. Celebrate when doors open that you were not sure would open so easily. Celebrate, even when you might have to let go of the past.
        • Our church is preparing a Celebration of Remembrance, as we move out of our old facility and begin a new ministry focus. We decided we needed a final memorial service. This is to be a Celebration of Remembrance. In moving onto where God is calling us we are not denying that God has done great work in the past of the church or that the building had not at one time served as an epicenter of faith in the community.
        • In fact, as I am writing a book on the history I am being reminded in the first half of the church’s life it was doing what we are doing now. It was focusing outside itself and seeking to move with God to reach out in the community and live the Missional life God calls churches too. So, I’m sure I’ll share and celebrate some of our history as I prepare the book, and let everyone here get to remember and celebrate some of the victory’s of the past.
        • You see, while we can’t live or dwell in the past. We can celebrate and let it help reignite us into a new future. That is the joy of celebrating, even when it may be hard to say good bye to the past.

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Where ever you are being called to change, be renewed, or re-birthed by God. Be encourage to trust Him. It may not always be easy, but know He will be with you. You are never alone.

+ May God Bless You on Your Journey with Jesus Today.

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