The Pastor's Corner: Opening the door to change
I love the church. I’ve given 35 years of my life to leading the church.
And although it hasn’t always been easy, I wouldn’t trade my life or experiences for anything. I believe my wife would agree. I was an associate for 5 years and I’ve pastored six churches since 1981. Every one of them needed to transition.
Here’s the good news. Though many feel that dead or dying churches can’t be successfully transitioned back to life, they’re wrong. I know this for two undeniable reasons. First, the church is based on the reality that, though Jesus died, he rose again.
Easter is God’s final word on whether dead churches can be brought back to life. If they genuinely are his body, they can. Secondly, I’ve seen it happen in every one of the churches I’ve had the privilege to pastor.
I’ve found that successfully moving a church through positive change has to begin with the right view of the church. Here’s the right view, in my opinion. The church is the hope of the world ... when it’s working right. In Jesus’ words, “You are the light of the world.”
The right view also demands remembering that a church isn’t a building or organization. It’s people. Changing buildings, names and organizational structure will not change a church. Until people change, there will be no genuine change. Every local church simply is a reflection of the people who attend. If the people of the church aren’t living as light, they won’t be the “light” in the darkness.
Most churches aren’t working right. Why do churches, God’s people, turn inward rather than continuing to follow Jesus in reaching outward? Why do churches, designed to prevail, so often retreat and experience defeat? The reason is simple. Unless believers guard their hearts, they will reflect human nature rather than God’s. Paul said, “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual, but as worldly, mere infants in Christ. You are still worldly.” (1 Corinthians 3)
If we allow our hearts to go unchecked for too long, we will by nature begin fighting for our values rather than God’s. We will turn our churches into our kingdoms rather than representing God’s kingdom. Change the people, change the church.