I sometimes tease our young pastors that “in all the world, there are only three people who enjoy change, and none are members of your church.”
It’s a common perception in our churches that the Lord’s people seem to be resistant to change. And there is certainly plenty of anecdotal evidence, as flockless shepherds step up to tell how they lost their pulpits when they tried to change a schedule or a program.
But, look around at the people attending our churches. They seem to handle change fairly well in other areas of their lives. They’re on computers, own X-boxes, play farm games on Facebook, send emails, and stay in touch with the world by their smart phones. No one at church drives a 1948 Packard because he doesn’t like change. No woman still wears the hair styles of the 1930s (as they did when I was a kid in the 1940s and ’50s). Their clothing is fairly up-to-date.
And yet, I can take you to an even dozen pastors right now who carry the scars of battles they fought trying to get the Lord’s people to make even the simplest of changes.
What’s going on?
Here is my take on why change is hard for God’s people. And the news, I have to say, is not good. The Lord who said, “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5) is probably not very pleased with those who hold onto what He did in the past and refuse to accept the new thing He is doing today.
The Lord who repeatedly commanded that we “sing unto the Lord a new song” (Psalm 33:3; 96:1; etc.) is probably not impressed when we refuse to sing anything but the songs we grew up under.
Why Change is So Hard for the Lord’s Frozen Chosen.
By the way, these are in no particular order, other than as they occur to me.
1. Change feels like loss.
–“If we add choruses to our worship service, we will have to cut out some of the hymns. But I love the hymns. Why should I give up my wonderful hymns for some cutesy little tunes someone wrote in his garage?”
–“If we add an additional worship service, we will divide the congregation. I’ll not see my friends unless we attend the same service. I am ag’in it.”
–“When I go on a diet, I lose weight and get healthier, which are all good. But I also have to quit wearing some things in the closet I love. And give up chocolate ice cream. So, no diet for me, thanks.”
2. Change challenges our belief system.
–“It was good for Paul and Silas; it’s good enough for me.” Yes, sir–give me that old time religion.