Our world and our culture are both going through massive changes. These changes are increasing in both speed and complexity. They are shaping our values in regard to how we define family, faith, knowledge, and science. These changes are all too ready to leave the church behind as some quaint spiritual artifact. In such an arena of competing values and counter-Christian views, what options do we have as individual believers or as churches in our communities?
M. Hillard, a vice president with the ServiceMaster Company says, “Change is an ocean, it will always be moving, slapping its boundaries. It will mock any attempt to contain it.” Regardless of whether we like or not and regardless of all attempts to resist it, change is inevitable. For me, the question is, “Do we have the courage to change?” To change, not for change sake, but for the sake of God loving our neighbors, strangers, family, friends, and even our enemies in and through our churches.
Almost four hundred years ago the Pilgrims came across the Atlantic Ocean in a voyage that took vision and courage. They sailed uncharted seas and traveled thousands of miles to follow their vision. In the first year that they were here, they established a town. In the second year they established a town council. In the third year the town council voted to build a road five miles into the wilderness. In the fourth year those early settlers almost impeached the town council for trying to build a road five miles into the wilderness. They said it was a terrible waste of money. A people once empowered by a vision to travel across the ocean were now a people who could not see beyond themselves.¹
“A vision has to be reproduced into a new vision or it dies. God is always ready to give a new vision when the old vision comes to maturity.”² For the Pilgrims, the vision that took them across thousand miles of uncharted ocean, couldn’t guide them five miles further into the wilderness.
How do we proceed? How do we relate to the world in which we live? How do we engage our communities in the love of God that we know in and through Jesus Christ? How do we re-connect our congregations with our communities? Some say we listen to the culture, focusing upon people who are willing to try new ideas. Others say we stay rooted in the scriptures, engaged both in God’s Word and in God’s world. How do we listen to the culture and respond with vision, encouragement, and engagement?
What we know is this, death comes when memories of the past supersede our vision for the future. The question still before is, “Do we have the courage to change?”
Prayer for today
O God, we know that perfect love cast out fear. Fill us with so much of your love that we can and will move boldly into the future knowing we are held with a love that will never let us go, that is working for our good, and will be with us always, in and through Jesus Christ. Amen.
- Dick Wills, Waking to God’s Dream, p. 39.
- Ibid., 38.