Several years back, I read a challenging book by Dr. Leonard Sweet entitled Soul Tsunami. In the book Dr. Sweet talks in detail about life and ministry in a fast-paced, postmodern world. He says that a clinical definition of death is “a body that does not change.” This means change is life, and stagnation is, of course, death. If you don’t change, you die. Sweet gives this example–
In molecular biology the world revolves around the cell. In the time it takes you to read this chapter, of the 100 trillion cells that make up your body, hundreds of millions will have died… for every one of those cells that dies while you’re reading this, another cell divides to replace it with a new one. Skin replaces itself every month; the stomach lining, every five days; the liver, every six weeks; the skeleton, every three months; cheek cells, three times a day. Ninety-eight percent of the atoms in your body are replaced every year – your whole body every five years (men) or seven years (women).
As you can see, our bodies are constantly being transformed. When growth and change stop occurring, we had better update our life insurance policies because the end is near.
What is true for the human body is true for the church. In the book of Acts, we read that the church was growing at a radical pace (Acts 2:41-47; 6:7; 9:31; 14:21), and as it did, theological issues were brought up, relational tensions arose, and unanticipated problems bubbled to the surface. As God added to their numbers, the focus, structures, and organization of the church had to be modified in order to accommodate the increase of people (Acts 6:1-7; 15:1-35).
Growth and life demand that changes occur. If the Apostles had resisted change and insisted on control and predictability, the Church would have stagnated. Their redemptive potential would have been limited.
Thinking of this brought to mind a rural Methodist church I used to drive by every week when I was pastoring my first congregation. Stephanie and I would often comment about the small number of vehicles that were parked there on Sunday mornings. I can still vividly recall the day I drove by and the stained glass windows had been removed. The building was still there, but there were no windows, no cars, and no life. It was a sad sight. Within a couple of weeks, the church was leveled, and today there are no signs that it ever existed at all. When the church stopped changing and the life left, there was nothing to do except tear it down.
Change is hard… Change is scary… Change is risky… Change is necessary… Change is life.