For a while on the blog I did What If Wednesdays where I would ask a What If and draw out some implications–food for thought, if you will. Well, it’s back. And first up…
I came into a church that consists primarily of men and women 50 and older. There is a younger contingent, but for the most part, our church is aged. That doesn’t bother me one bit, though, for with age comes great stories of victory and triumph, as well as an appreciation for history and the importance of knowing from whence one came. I love our older people, and they have loved my family well.
But for as much as I love history and care about knowing how I got to where I am—and how the church has arrived in the present—my charge as a leader is to think about the future.
Where do we need to go? Who do we want to reach? How are we going to reach those people and take them to our preferred destination? And the biggie: What has to change for us to make it all happen? (Please note that when I say us I am assuming that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is/are the foremost agent(s) of change and transformation, whereas we the church and I the pastor are merely vessels).
In an article about the slippery nature of leadership, Andy Stanley remarks that “leaders find themselves in the precarious and often career-jeopardizing position of being the ones to draw attention to the need for change,” (Catalyst Groupzine Vol. 3, 8). On a more personal level, Andy adds that, “Courageous leaders are those who would rather challenge what needs to change and pay the price than remain silent and slowly die inside,” (8). Hmmm challenge or die? Challenge or die? Which one…
I don’t want to die slowly on the inside like when I watch television that isn’t HD. So it begs the question, what if nothing changes? What if I am too scared to push people beyond their comfort zones and challenge the status quo? What does that look like for our church nestled in the hills and mountains of upper east Tennessee?
To be frank, it’s not just me that will slowly die, the church would slowly die. As I said at the beginning, most of our people are over 50. Most of those are over 60, with several being 70-plus. The rate of funerals is going to pick up in the near future. That’s not to be morbid. Death is a fact of life. And thinking about death right now can make a huge difference in how we live. So what happens when half of the present members are dead in the next decade or so if nothing changes?
It wouldn’t just be our people who had passed; it would be our church body. This is why I ask you to join in praying for me and the other leaders at Bunker Hill (and leaders at other churches). Pray that we would have the courage to challenge what needs to change. Pray for the hearts of those, maybe yourself, who have a resistance to change.
If your particular preference isn’t being met, someone else’s is–and vice versa. Everyone isn’t going to like everything, but if we can agree in the name of the gospel to be unified around a common purpose, then preferences don’t seem as worthy of a fight or hissy fit.
I’m praying that the Spirit would grant us a God-sized vision to chase after, a vision so daring that apart from divine intervention we are sure to fail.