Seasons of Change
The leaves are falling. Soon the snow will be flying. Before long, the grass will shove through the earth and the flowers will blossom. The heat of summer will emerge, and the fall will be here before we know it. Seasons make the year interesting. Just as with the seasons and natural progression of hot and cold that God established, the Christian life and God’s church also goes through changes.
Change is something that human nature is resistant to. We get comfortable. We become accustomed. What is “Normal” is what we have known to this specific point in our lives. We can arrive at “new normal” when we willingly adjust our expectations.
Change in the Bible is good. If you are a Christian, the specific moment you trusted Jesus for salvation, a big change took place. You passed from “death unto life!” In John 5:24 Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
Change for the Christian is good. For example: we are to be “transformed” (Changed from the inside out) by the renewing of our minds in Romans 12:1-2.
The Christian is to be continually changing to look more like Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul teaches, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Change is good. Individual Christians are changing to look more like Jesus. Churches also go through changes. One preacher aptly stated: “Churches are always in transition.” Very true.
A local church cannot remain stagnant. A church must strive to be vibrant, meeting the edification needs for its members and the evangelism needs of its community.
Here are three areas a church can benefit from change:
- A renewed spirit of unity. We are to strive together to fulfill the Great Commission. We are unified by Christ around the Gospel. Philippians 1:27, commands, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
Perhaps this humorous story will help: “Intending to raise cattle, a family from New York bought a ranch out West. When their friends visited and inquired about the ranch’s name, the would be rancher replied: “I wanted to name it the Bar-J. My wife favored Suzy-Q, one of our sons wanted the Flying-W, and the other liked the Lazy-Y. So we’re calling it the BAr-J-Suzy-Q-Flying-W-Lazy-Y.”
“But where are all your cattle?” the friends asked.
“None survived the branding.””
There are casualties in a church when the members are not united around the main thing. Don’t be distracted in your service to the Lord! Preferences, nuances, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” And personality issues should not divert your attention. Keep serving Jesus. Stay united to the cause of Christ and do not allow side issues to get your eyes off Jesus.
- A restored community of trust. Paul’s ministry even encountered seasons of disunity and discouragement. When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, some of the believers were divided. Read 1 Corinthians 1 for more details. Some liked Paul’s preaching, others preferred Apollos (A great orator), and others enjoyed the passion of Peter. The division was causing problems in the church.
Paul makes a hasty trip to Corinth in between these letters to try to resolve their issues.
Later, in 2 Corinthians, we find Paul sending another letter, not to elevate himself, but to elevate Jesus and help the people start to trust God again.
2 Corinthians 3:1-5 says, “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles (letters) of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? 2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.”
The church belongs to Jesus. He purchased her with His own blood. We can trust the church to God. Jesus can overcome any doctrinal, personal, or preferential problems a church may face. Paul knew that he was not sufficient to solve the division, but Jesus was (and is) sufficient. Paul was not boasting in his ability, but in the fact that these Christians had started to yield their sin, personalities, and problems to the Lord and God healed their church. Jesus said: “I will build my church.” We can trust Him!
- A revived attitude of respect. 1 Thessalonians 5:12 instructs, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”
Pastors are not dictators. If pastors were dictators, then no church member would ever miss a service, and no one would ever not bring their tithe to church, and members would bring Snickers candy bars to every church function. Lol… if you like. The role of pastor is that of “Servant – Leader.” It is an accurate and healthy description.
Pastors are to be gentle shepherds leading and feeding the flock. Sometimes that includes protecting the sheep from wolves (in sheep’s clothing), false doctrine (bad spiritual food to eat), and dangerous pasture fields (emergent church models).
There should be a mutual respect among the members of a congregation for one another. Church members should be trusting the deacons. Church members and deacons should have an attitude of trust with the pastoral staff as well.
One service I was preaching through this passage in 1 Thessalonians 5, and suggested that it helps the pastor of the church when the church members are not fighting or bickering and that when a church was at peace, the true work of the ministry can thrive. It is a true thought.
A thoughtful man, a genuine student of the Bible, suggested to me that the peace among the members was also connected to their respect or lack of respect for the pastor. Read that verse again please.
“Esteem” means to “deem, consider, or count.” A faithful church member must be able to count the pastor as respectful and worthy or he will not be able to learn, grow, or develop in that church. A result of disrespect is that the pastor is not able to lead as effectively as he should. Why can he not lead effectively? Because of the lack of peace. A pastor constantly putting out fires cannot commit the time called for – for the actual work of the ministry. It could look like this old saying: “Too many chiefs – not enough Indians.” Let the pastor be the “Servant – Leader” overseeing the overall work of the church.
These are 3 examples where change is good! If these areas are lacking – Change! Change to the glory of God.
- Are you united with your church family in the purpose of the Gospel?
- Do you have an attitude of trust for the other members, deacons, and pastoral staff?
- Is there a mutual respect that you have for the church leadership that creates a peaceful environment?
Change is good. Christians as well as churches go through “Seasons of change.” Transitions and changes are sometimes difficult and even turbulent because human nature does not like change; but when we see Jesus – it will be worth it all. When we make the needed adjustments as individuals and as a church, the Lord is glorified.
And. His. Work. Will. Continue.