Change can be neutral. Change can be bad. Change can be good.
To change for change’s sake is neutral. For instance, changing up the setup of your living room is neither good nor bad. Change can be refreshing (more on a church changing for change’s sake later).
Changing something can be bad too. For instance, if I changed hobbies and my new hobby kept me from fulfilling my responsibilities, then that change would be bad.
Changing something can be good too. God changed us by transforming us into a new creation. The old has passed away and the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The morality of change is determined by its purpose and effects. The changes that we are making to our ministries must be critiqued for their purpose and effects. For instance, if we simply changed to be like everyone else, or to imitate the newest church model, then our purpose is sinful. Change in that case is wrong. If we changed and it resulted in Christ’s name being dishonored, then the effect of our change is sinful.
Remaining the same can be wrong for the same reasons. If our motivation to remain static is selfish, or based on what other churches are doing, or based on what we have always done, then that motivation is incorrect. If remaining the same results in Christ’s name being dishonored, then the effect of remaining static is sinful.
While some of our changes may be flexible and require adjustments, the changes we are making to our ministry are a result of much prayer and consideration. We believe that we can best honor Christ’s name, reach out to our community, and fulfill Jesus’ call to make disciples by following through with some of these changes.
Changing our service times will make our morning worship more visitor-friendly because, frankly, on the weekends, visitors are more likely to attend at a later hour. There is nothing more or less holy about the 10 AM or 9 AM hour. We are pursuing this change because we feel like it will best help us to reach our community, make disciples, and honor Christ’s name. Having a coffee hour before the service at 9:30 AM allows us to give a warm and friendly first impression to anyone who attends.
Moving our Sunday School ministry to Sunday night is not more spiritual than having it in the morning. We do feel that our teachers will benefit from being able to focus on the morning service without the responsibility of Sunday School. We also feel that the students will benefit because they will not have to sit and be still for both the morning service and Sunday School. Another added effect is that organizing our ministries in this way gives us a separate kid’s ministry without requiring more volunteers.
It is not sinful or holy to keep the ministry times the way they have been. If we genuinely thought the current ministry times would most effectively help us to make disciples, then we would keep the ministries exactly the same. In the future, we may have to change the service times again to help us effectively make disciples.
We had originally intended to change our ministry times starting on Easter. However, we are also working on publications, visitor brochures, and a church website. We did not want to have to change those publications in a month and a half to update the new service times. It seemed natural to change the service times on Daylight Savings Time, March 12, when we all have to adjust ourselves anyway.
The other change that we are making is in our midweek ministry. Our church family will have ample opportunity to ask questions and learn about this ministry before we start it. That change should occur in early April.
The Link Group model is not new to church ministry. In-home prayer and discussion meetings are not more spiritual than Wednesday night prayer meetings. Why are we doing it?
We feel that an in-home prayer and discussion meeting will give our church the greatest opportunity to ‘link’ with each other and will give new members the greatest opportunity to ‘link’ into our church. The format will be fairly similar to a Wednesday prayer meeting, except we will be adding a sermon-based discussion and we will meet in homes. Both ministries give opportunities to share and pray for one another. However, meeting in homes in smaller groups can help our church family to be more comfortable with one another. It will also help new members become part of our church family more smoothly. We want to make disciples in a loving church. ‘Link Groups’ give us the opportunity to continue to expand our love for one another.
We never want to change for change’s sake. Our ministry is too urgent to spend time and energy changing our ministry ‘just because.’ Any change we make must have good motivations and effects. We believe that the changes we are introducing to our ministry have both.
“We make it our aim to please him.” 2 Corinthians 5:9