Change is inevitable. Change cannot be stopped. Change cannot be avoided. Change comes and we either go with it or get left behind. Leading change is one of the most difficult tasks that can be undertaken. It’s been said that change leadership is “disappointing people at a rate that they can absorb.”
Change is a fact of life in the biblical narrative. God has moved his people throughout history from one situation to another. He has release them from bondage and sent them into the promised land. He has exiled them from the promised land and then said that the whole world is the promised land. The Bible never says that the Christian faith and its practices come to a halt on some arbitrary date in history. To the contrary, the brief window of church practices that we see adapt themselves and the truth that they represent to the culture in which they find themselves.
A kingdom-oriented mindset recognizes that there is no mandated music, no particular language, no less culture that governs the worship and mission of Christ’s church. Because it is to go into the world and make disciples of all the nations, is to be the bearer of God’s holiness and the communicator of the truths of Jesus Christ to whatever place in which it finds itself. And yet, like the spies who went into Canaan and came back with a frightening report (Numbers 13), many are so fearful of the giants that lay ahead that they refuse to change, they refuse to carry out the mission.
Not only do the change–fearful refuse to participate in the mission when the boundaries change, they go out of their way to influence their leaders to the point where the entire community becomes paralyzed.
When Caleb spoke up, fully cognizant of God’s mission to move his people into the promised land, he urged his brothers and sisters to move forward. He bore witness to Yahweh’s power in freeing them from bondage, in swallowing the enemy in the sea, in sustaining them in the desert. Caleb knew that God went with them and it was in God’s power and at his direction that they would overcome any giants that presented themselves. Sadly, his voice was drowned out by those who feared the change.
An entire generation squatted in the desert fearing change (Joshua 14:10 – 12). An entire generation of naysayers passed before the mission of God could move forward. Fear caused many to pass away in the desert without ever even catching a glimpse of the blessing that God had promised. Many went to their death convinced that the status quo was better than risking the change.
Christ’s Church can find herself in the same situation. Controlled by those who long for a culture that no longer exists, who pine for a musical style that is no longer relevant to today’s ears, who want the worship of the church to emulate what it was in their younger days. They fear the imaginary giants and go out of their way to hold the community back.
Jesus gave his church a clear mandate to going to the world and make disciples. This means that we must communicate the truth of Jesus Christ in a way that resonates with the culture in which we find ourselves. This means that we must teach the truths of the Bible in language that our neighbors can understand. This means that change is a fact of life, a fact that we dare not avoid lest we find the church sitting in the desert for a full generation.