I have learned in the ministry that things are always changing. Transition, change, and flexibility are good words for a church.
Let me be clear. I am not talking about changing ministry philosophy. Nor am I talking about changing doctrine, standards, or music. I am not talking about changing the name of a church to make it more acceptable to the culture. I have no interest or intention of becoming Cleveland Community Church. As long as I am pastor, it is going to be Cleveland Baptist Church. I have no intention of leaving the heritage and positions we have come to embrace as being right from the pages of Scripture.
What am I talking about when I use the word flexibility? Flexibility is accommodating growth and making adjustments so growth isn’t hampered. I am talking about things that can be changed and should be changed if it helps the overall mission of the church.
As an example, one of our newer Adult Bible Fellowships is the Young Professionals class. It is a singles class made up of those who are out of college and includes those through their thirties. That class has literally exploded in growth, averaging about 45-50 each Sunday. The classroom space that they occupied on Sunday morning reached its capacity, so we began to look for a new classroom.
The Junior High department had a larger classroom space that could accommodate about 80 people. The problem with this solution is that the Junior High department had occupied that room for close to thirty years. When it was time to make the decision, we discussed it with the class leaders. The Junior High leader said that while they didn’t relish the idea of moving, they would move because it was necessary to accommodate this larger growing class. I appreciate leaders like that.
In churches and ministries, if we aren’t careful, we begin to think of classes and space in terms of ownership. This is my classroom, this is my ministry; and truthfully, when people begin to think of it in those terms, they often bristle at the thought of change.
In the last ten years, our church has been in a constant state of remodeling. The newest building on our property was constructed over twenty-three years ago. Some of the other buildings date back to the 1960s, so there has been a need to update. Because our ministry is out of debt, we have been able to make these improvements without going into debt. Some part of our buildings is always under construction. That means we need to be flexible in order to accommodate the construction and keep moving forward.
I remember one particular Easter Sunday when I preached with scaffolding in the auditorium. Remodeling and construction mean we may have to adjust the schedule or temporarily move a class. These things can’t be helped; when people make those adjustments without complaint and with a great attitude, it is such a blessing.
Here is my challenge to you:
1. Some things should not change! Hold on to them! Don’t bend or bow to the pressure or succumb to the winds of change. No matter how many people are changing, if it is something that has been tested and found as a timeless truth, be inflexible and unchanging.
2. Be flexible and willing to change and to let go of things that don’t really make a difference. You may be comfortable. You may not want to change, but if it is a matter of personal preference, don’t be inflexible. When I was a child, the Sunday night service was at 7:00. Many years ago we changed the time to 6:00 in order to better accommodate families with children. I know some churches that are now holding their evening service at 5:00. That is something that can change.
3. Be willing to let go of things for the benefit of the work of God. Be willing to change and be flexible in those areas that will benefit the church and the work of God.