Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” Ephesians 3:20 KJV.
I’ve been exposed to two broad categories of change that are of significant interest to committed church members, church officers, pastors, and conference leadership. Reactive changes and proactive changes are worth identifying in the context of church life.
Firstly, reactive changes are those that come into our lives from the outside and require a response. Challenges that creep upon us without warning can be the most dramatic examples; but, the people we worship with and who are with us in church, are most often in need of help in responding to issues such as disappointments, financial setbacks, interpersonal conflicts, loneliness, or the need to make important decisions. These are often referred to as reactive changes because they usually come as a reaction to some event or situation in life.
Secondly, proactive changes, in contrast to reactive changes, are the changes we are trying to make happen — being a better parent, supporting the church through more consistent attendance and committed stewardship, losing unwanted weight, or initiating a positive development activity for younger people. These two types of change can and often do overlap.
As we quest to revitalize our challenged congregations, we begin to observe that change is very difficult even when members declare they want it. The question is asked: Why do people resist change even when they say they want it? There are many reasons, but a few have been identified as being among the most common.
People resist change because:
No matter what we face in our quest to make changes in our plateauing or declining congregations that can foster revitalization, it is the awesome power of God that brings lasting change which might never come otherwise. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul gave glory to God because, by His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope (Ephesians 3:20). The apostle prayed that from God’s glorious, unlimited resources, He will give us mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit. The radical and lasting change in Paul’s own life direction was an example of his belief that human effort was of limited value, but that he could do everything with the help of Christ who continually gave him the strength he needed.
As impossible or improbable as resurrecting a dead or non-responsive church may seem, let us never forget that the limited resourcefulness of ours linked up with God’s omnipotence can bring positive and effective change to our congregations. –RCS
Southern Union | March 2020