Change and Church Health

Have you ever noticed that no one cooks as good as your mom? You may not want to admit it in front of your wife, but there’s just something special about mom’s cooking. Especially if you grew up in the south and had the pleasure of experiencing beans and cornbread.


Unfortunately, over the past few years my mom’s cooking isn’t as good as it used to be. We still have beans and cornbread and all the stuff that comes with it, but the flavor isn’t what it once was. Something’s changed.

My parents are getting older, and my dad’s health isn’t what it once was. In the past few years he’s been diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, and has had to have multiple stints put in to open up arteries in his heart.

In order to live a long life, his diet had to change.

This means sweet tea is now made with Splenda, potatoes are baked instead of fried, and a lot less salt and fat in the pinto beans.

It certainly doesn’t taste as good to me or him, but we both realize it’s either change or face a shortened lifespan.

Many churches are facing the same choice, change or face the consequences.

But change isn’t easy for a variety of reasons. Here are just a few:

  1. Tradition

First, let me say that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with tradition. None of us would be were we are today without the great Christian men and women who have gone before us in ministry. The issue arises when we are so in love with the past that we’re not willing to make the changes necessary to reach people today.

  1. Risk

Every change involves risk. The bigger the change, the bigger the risk. The smaller the church, the bigger the risk. It may be that the change that needs to be made may be the very thing that used to bring people to the church. Many pastors are able to see what needs to change, but they’re not willing to risk losing key members of the church in the process.

  1. Uncertainty

Some people fear the dark because they can’t see what’s in front of them. Change has the same effect on people. When you’ve been doing ministry a certain way for a long time, it’s hard to imagine how you would do it any other way. For example, the cake walk may not be the best way to raise money anymore, but at least you know how to put one on.

Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have, and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up. 

James Belasco and Ralph Stayer

My dad understands that if he wants to be around to see his grandchildren grow up, then his diet had to change. For many people in the church, we need to come to that same realization.

If you want the church to be around for the generations coming along after you, you have to be willing to change. It may not taste as good as the beans and cornbread you ate when you were growing up, but it will increase the life expectancy of your church.

Do you have a success story about change in your church? I’d love to hear about it. Please leave a comment below, and make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on leadership, church growth, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

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