The hard thing about ‘change’ is managing the ‘fall-out’ or as some might call it ‘damage control’. Sounds political right. Not meant to be. But these lessons are meant to help avoid as much damage as possible. Sometimes ‘change’ comes and leaders feel very helpless. A group may end up with an undeclared split… those who want it, and those who are against it. If changes don’t occur then those who want it, leave, and if changes occur, then those who don’t want it leave. What’s a leadership to do?
May I suggest several things as I move to the last of the installments of notes and lessons dad had on this subject.
1. Spend much time in prayer, visitation with members, gather all information on feelings and thoughts as possible, encourage a spirit of love and unity, and sow the seeds of all concerned with the idea of compromise (each moving towards each other/ give and take).
2. The last thing we need is more splits and division. Brethren need to see more than anything, what the end will be if an un-Christ-like attitude prevails. All need to be on the page of seeking the best move for not only the congregation, but for the cause of Christ. Division is not only wrong, but damaging to the influence of the church in the community.
3. DO NOT BE FOOLED INTO THINKING:
A. People will not see when a congregation is at war with itself
B. People will not see a congregation that can weather the winds of change and
come out loving each other even more!
4. NOTHING… TAKES THE PLACE OF UNITY! (This is the title of this lesson from dad.) As you recall from the first lesson in this series, dad grew up in a different time. Church looked different, times were different, and changes came hard. Congregations divided, and hurt feelings grew. It wasn’t all bad times then… but the hope for now is that we can learn from the past and grow.
1. SCRIPTURES TO STUDY AND KEEP IN MIND
A. Ephesians 4:1-7 Paul’s plea for and outline of unity.
B. I Corinthians 1:10-3:23 Paul deals with division.
C. Romans 16:16-17 Paul encourages unity and warns against those who hurt the
D. Romans 14-15 Paul instructs on how to maintain unity (weak brother/strong
2. A FEW THINGS WHICH PALE IN IMPORTANCE WITH THE CROSS OF CHRIST
AND HIS MISSION:
A. Church buildings
B. Arrangement of singing
C. Tenure of elders
E. Order of services
F. Local Ministers
G.Time of services and how many
H. Name of the church (assembly). (Consider “Central – “Where Christians meet”)
I. How money (funds) are dispensed
J. How to select elders
L. Where “giving” is an act of worship
M. How often should we give
3. SOME CONSIDERATIONS
A. There are many other things which dad could have added to the list, but did not.
1.) You can add some things as you consider this.
B. Grow in grace, and understand, that not everything which look like big deals are in
fact A BIG DEAL.
C. Tradition has played a BIG APART IN THINGS WE DO.
1.) Prove this by asking for the scripture which proves one must do something
‘this way’ or ‘that’.
D. Tradition is not bad in and of itself.
E. Some changes are good if it helps the congregation to grow and reach out to the
1.) This doesn’t mean on is a ‘change agent’.
F. Galatians 5:6 What is important is “FAITH WHICH WORKS BY LOVE.”
G. Keep a firm hold on things which are not CHANGEABLE. The “basic core” as
dad calls it. This must not, cannot be changed.
H. It takes wise shepherds, to grow and help their flock to grow with them.
2.) Work together
3.) Grow in grace
4.) Maintain your liberty in Christ
5.) Earnestly strive to hold onto unity and peace – NOTHING TAKES THE PLACE
Dad was very concerned for the church, the body of Christ. Praying for unity, peace, growth in grace and love… Dealing with ‘change’ without being labelled a “change agent”, is difficult. Sometimes unavoidable. This material is being made available to help leaders in dealing with “Change” in a way which is in keeping with the ‘story of the Bible’ and the instruction of Paul, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2).
This expanded outline is part of dad’s study which he prepared for his Three Unusual Days Ministry…
1. Change should be: BASED ON ENLIGHTENMENT and GROWTH SPIRITUALLY
A. Any time a church family deals with ‘change’, the leadership must
1.) Educate the people
2.) Discuss and communicate with the people
3.) Teach the people
4.) Be available to the people
2. Change should be: GRADED AND GRADUAL
A. No ‘next Sunday surprises’
B. Take time needed for the things mentioned above.
C. Consider the congregation’s present ‘comfort zone’
1.) ‘Change’ is not easy
3. Change should be: DIRECTIONAL – INTENTIONAL – WITH GOALS IN MIND
A. No hidden agenda allowed
B. Present a clear picture of WHERE YOU ARE GOING.
4. Change should be: WHAT IS BEST FOR YOUR CONGREGATION.
A. Open your minds to options/ compromise
5. Change should be: GOVERNED BY BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES
A. Each congregation is independent
B. What is BIBLICAL, UN-BIBLICAL, NON-BIBLICAL and ANTI-BIBLICAL.
6. Change should be: COMMUNICATED WELL (before, during and after)
A. NO “Politics” “Undermining leaders over the phone
B. When this surfaces…. DEAL WITH IT QUICKLY AND DECISIVELY
7. Change should be: WITHOUT A FEAR ELEMENT
A. Deal with change openly and in the right way, so as to get rid of ‘fear’.
B. Cries of “It is un-scriptural” must be dealt with properly.
8. Change should be: DONE IN A WAY WHICH PROMOTES
9. Change should be: IN THE SPIRIT OF SENSITIVITY AND CARE FOR ALL.
10. Changer should be: WITH ALL IN MIND
A. The “Old guard”
B. The “baby-boomers”
C. The “baby busters”
D. The “young and unmarried”
E. The “teens”
F. The “kids”
*** MEETING SOME OF ALL NEEDS – is wise.
*** KEEP THIS IMPORTANT THING IN MIND… Nothing takes the place of unity….
This lesson can be particularly helpful to elders who are burdened with guiding their congregations through the turbulence that can come with growth. Dad would at times present this lesson to a group of shepherds. Here is his outline with some added notes..
“BALANCE ON CHANGE”
“Change” = “The act, process of changing – (Alteration)(Transformation)Substitution)
“Autonomous” = “The quality or state of being self-governing…”
I Peter 5:2 “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve.”
Philippians 1:1 “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons.”
Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
“What’s Best?” – (Dad posed that question here for leaders. It is truly a difficult thing to care for and lead God’s people in the right… best way. Not everything is outlined in the scriptures. Thus elders have responsibility to grow in grace and apply this grace so that freedom in Christ is exercised and not abused.)
1. TRUTH AND TRADITIONS
A. “Tradition” = “Handing down information – Beliefs – Customs – Without written (Bible)
instructions/ on the details.
1.) Matthew 15:1-9 READ
1.) Traditions – NEITHER GOOD NOR BAD.
2.) Traditions – “LIVING FAITH OF THE DEAD” which CAN BECOME “DEAD FAITH
OF THE LIVING”
3.) Name them – Know them – Change – Begin them
C. Understand the difference between “UN” – “ANTI” – “NON” Biblical
1.) UN-BIBLICAL? (Not in accord with the story/ message and spirit of the
Gospel of grace.)
2.) ANTI-BIBLICAL? (Expressly against scriptures)
3.) NON-BIBLICAL? (Not in the Bible/ Bible is silent/ Can exercise freedom.)
D. Why important to understand difference in these?
1.) If Bible says “YES” OR “NO” “DO THIS OR DO THAT” that settles the matter.
(Yet customs come into play re some things which Paul commands.)
2.) If the Bible says nothing on the matter then it becomes a question of is it
expedient? Helpful or harmful? Consider customs/ Likes/ dislikes/ weak brother
(not a grumbling mature brother).
3.) Freedom must be exercised with love… not used to ‘run over’ brethren.
a.) Take time to teach brethren to the point where they understand their
“freedom”, as well as the difference in “UN”, “ANTI” and “NON” Bibilical
b.) Understand the difference between and deal with “STUMBLING BLOCKS
AND GRUMBLING BLOCKS” (Refer to Books dad wrote for this subject.)
2. LEADERSHIP – CHARACTER AND INTEGRITY
A. Know the direction (Vision) of your congregation.
B. Know the ‘flock’ (People) “consider” – think)
C. Envision the destiny – End results
D. Entertain (Consider) – the Risk
E. Stake out the spiritual guidelines (“un”, “anti”, “non”)
3. LEADERSHIP – UNDERSTAND EACH OTHERS NEEDS
A. All (people)(groups) needing – wanting – hoping
B. Important: BEND – GIVE AND TAKE – LISTEN
C. Identify each others feelings – Old church bldg. “My dad helped build this…”
4. LEADERSHIP – EDUCATE – TEACH – INFORM – ANSWER QUESTIONS
(“Education = power to see a thing from many different viewpoints/ perspective!”)
A. Cosmetic changes??? (Songs being used)(Responsive reading)
B. Scriptures to keep in mind:
1.) 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord
is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the
Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory,
which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
2.) Colossians 1:28 “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone
with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.”
3.) Romans 12:1-2 Transformation – ongoing process – Spiritual change/growth
(Church = family= grow together!)
5. LEADERSHIP – “GRADUAL” = IMP. WORD WHEN DEALING WITH ‘CHANGE’
A. “Can’t leap a chasm in two hops” – MAY NEED TO BUILD A BRIDGE!!!
B. “All past IS NOT BAD” (Our past/roots/history/Restoration Movement – Learn/grow)
C. “All future IS NOT GOOD” (Depends on level of leadership WISDOM/INTEGRITY
D. Concept “Burn baby burn” must be avoided! (“Baby/Bathwater”)
E. Define Congregational “Comfort Zone”
F. There should be NO ‘SHOCKS’ – Communicate!!!
G. Avoid ‘Power Moves’ – Should not have one man rule inside Eldership..
H. Keep in mind, while some ‘changes’ may be good with some congregations… they
may not be APPROPRIATE for other congregations.
(Take time to read and re-read this material and adapt it to your needs. It is merely meant to be a lesson to help us begin to STOP AND THINK, and regain some BALANCE in dealing with CHANGES WHICH INEVITABLY COME as congregations strive to grow.)
(I would really enjoy your responses on this.)(jhejr)
(The following is a study which dad had developed for his “Three Unusual Days” Ministry. This was not one of his primary lessons which he used, but was used when he saw the need. Here you will find his initial lesson where he looks back at ‘how things have changed
‘over the years’… “reactions to change” and “A quick look at the New Testament church” followed by some thoughts on “maintaining ‘balance’ in the midst of change”.
He was certainly no “change agent”, but wasn’t opposed to ‘change’ within certain guidelines and principles….
* Growing up, my mother made most of our clothes from flour sacks. I know it’s hard for most to remember those days. As we grew, she would modify the pattern and enlarge, and repair (patch) these same clothes.
* God is the builder of the church. While there are some guidelines and principles for the church, there is no “outline”, “strict form” or “pattern” per se which gives an ‘agenda’ or ‘routine’ or “mandates on the ‘how to’, for the church through the ages to follow. Problems addressed in the New Testament were largely to do with culture. (Dad put “98% cultural”).
Dad recollects where he went to church as a boy….(I think)
1. Old Bowling Green Church – (No elders/deacons)
A. No instructions – How often to meet
B. Two week gospel meetings (Three Sundays)
(Most baptisms during this time)(Imported Evangelists)
2. Advent = AUTOMOBILES! PAVED ROADS! LIGHTING!!! (Modify)-(Change)
(Idea of a Sunday night service developed)
A. Sunday School (Bible Classes) began in England (1870’s)
1.) They simply partitioned the auditorium
B. “UNINSPIRED LITERATURE” (Gospel Advocate)
1.) These lessons were on a single card with a picture and written prayer.
2.) Brethren took turns reading the lesson each Sunday
C. (Then we) Built Sunday School Class Rooms
3. Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting (Modified – Changed to Bible Classes
(Not much praying) (Hebrews 10:25 = used)
4. 1944 – TWO GLASSES WERE USED FOR THE COMMUNION
A. Contribution – Was brought to the Lord’s table (without prayer)
“Thank you brother so and so for your contribution of $___.”
B. Servers for table – called from the floor
C. Prayers for communion were memorized=little variation.
D. Women had LONG HAIR – Wore hats/ head coverings
E. Song leaders that waved hands (were considered show offs)
(Usually the kept beat with their feet)
“IT’S AMAZING HOW QUICKLY EACH MODIFICATION OF THE ‘PATTERN’ BECAME AN ‘OBLIGATION’ ON EVERYONE. (ACCOMPANIED BY THREATS OF ‘HELL’ OR THE LOSS OF SOME ‘STAR IN YOUR CROWN'” FOR NON COMPLIANCE.
5. THE MEETING HOUSE HAD NO SIGN
6. YET THEY DEVELOPED AN “INFLEXIBLE PATTERN OF PROCEDURE”
A. Three Songs – Prayer – Song – Sermon – Invitation – Communion – Collection –
Song – Dismissal – (Covering of the Communion)
7. SONG LEADERS OFFERED NO COMMENTS (MINI-SERMONS)
(No scripture reading)(No communion comments)
8. NO “PLACING MEMBERSHIP” (Letter)
(No official Membership Roll)(No Withdrawal proceedure)(No church socials)
(No kitchens)(No fellowship meals)
9. OUTDOOR OUTHOUSE – BAPTISMS IN THE LAKE
(Modify) (Toilets moved inside)(Water fountains provided)(Kitchens)
A. Kitchens were considered “Mark of the Social Gospel”
10. USE OF BLACKBOARDS AND FABRIC CHARTS WERE FREQUENT
A. Fifth Sunday contributions went to orphan homes
B. Once a year Children’s Home Truck picked up canned goods
11. EARLY TIMES: WE HAD NOT ‘PICKED UP’ ON CATHOLIC CONCEPT
A. Church weddings
B. Marriage “Sacrament”
12. NO FUNERAL HOMES: (Body of deceased = Home!)
A. Someone sat with the body)(Sang at the grave side)
B. All singing at funeral was congregational
*** DEVELOPMENT/EXPANSION OF A PATTERN = DUE TO EXPANSION AND
GROWTH! (Clothing patterns change)(Styles)(Needs)(Shoe sizes)
THE CHURCH = “A LIVING GROWING BODY”
*** EACH CHANGE WAS MET WITH CRITICISM AND DEBATE!!!
CHURCHES SPLIT AND DIVIDED RESULTING IN:
(Non-building group)(Non-Sunday school group)(One cup group)(No kitchen group)
(Non-orphan support group)(Non-located minister group)
*** All supported by “FOR CONSCIENCE SAKE”
13. CHURCH STAFFS (Modify – Change)
A. Senior ministers/ Located Pulpit Ministers/ Educational ministers/ Counsellors/
Secretaries/ Custodian/ Full time elders
14. OVERHEAD PROJECTORS (Modify – Change)
A. Copiers and printers replace the mimeograph and printing press
B. Bulletins (Mailed out to all – now emailed and web sites)
C. Literature – written by women
D. Worship teams/ Praise teams
E. Contemporary Christian songs
G. Song Cantatas
H. Radio – TV – Internet
I. Puppets – Applause
15. “A LOOK AT FIRST CENTURY NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIANITY”
(QUESTION: Out of all the congregations existing in first century… which one was the
‘standard’? Model for the rest? Answer – NONE!
The first Century Church….
A. It had a miraculous beginning (Pentecost – Cornelius)
B. Outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Made available for all)(Acts 2:38-39)
C. They had persons exercising SPECIAL SPIRITUAL GIFTS
D. Jews only (at first for 7 or 8 years)
E. Women wore veils while praying/prophesying (in the assembly)
F. Destitute widows – enrolled as special servants.
G. Other women – Deaconesses
H. Evangelists spread/preached the Gospel.
I. Teachers/Prophets/Elders – Edified the saints
J. Church meetings (assemblies) – more HORIZONTAL than VERTICAL
K. Love feasts – Fellowship meals were common
L. First Church – “Held all things – common”
M. Collections taken (WHEN NEEDED) for the poor/needy brethren/ Evangelism
N. No budget/ No treasury/ No weekly collections
O. No name used/worn (to) designate (which church…. there was only one)
P. Racial/ Ethic differences / NOT TOLERATED
Q. Laid hands on appointees
R. Elders anointed the sick with oil and prayed
S. They practiced fasting
T. “Kiss of Christian love” was enjoined by Paul
U. Washed feet – by EXAMPLE AND COMMAND of Jesus
V. JEWISH DISCIPLES KEPT RITUALS – Law of Moses
W. Used no hymnals – had no 4 part harmony
X. No ‘placing membership’ is recorded as being practiced
Y. No buildings – they met in homes
Z. No business meetings/No staff