Change is a natural outgrowth of health. Think of a healthy child. As healthy kids grow, they need to change. They need bigger shirts, different size shoes and more to eat. If nothing else, change is needed to accommodate growth.
2) The Natural Lifecycle of the Church Requires Change.
Churches go through various lifecycle phases. First there is the church plant phase, similar to infancy. Often the church does not have its own facilities. It has its first pastor and often he is the only staff member.
Healthy churches will continue to grow till they reach maturity. This usually takes 20-30 years from birth according to many studies. When a church reaches their pinnacle of maturity they have an established way of doing things, structured leadership and developed ministries. They are typically most effective during the five years following their peak of maturity.
Sadly, churches often hit a plateau following their most effective five years. Growth stops and most churches either maintain, or even worse, they begin to decline. When a church is in maturity and has experienced some success, they often resist change; “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But what worked yesterday might not work today, and what works today might not work tomorrow. Therefore, churches need to be careful not to cement themselves too firmly in this comfort zone. In the maturity phase, it is especially difficult, yet critical to change in order to avoid a plateau, or even worse, a decline.
3) Today's Church Exists In Changing Culture.
We live in a rapidly changing, and in many areas deteriorating culture. If the people and community that we are trying to serve are changing, then we need to change too. I am not suggesting that you lower yourself to our culture’s standards, or adopt unethical, ungodly practices, to “fit in.” However, I am suggesting that the methods by which you effectively reached our culture in the 1980s, 90s or even as recent as the 2000’s may not be the most effective approach to ministry today. You may like the way you do things and it may feel very comfortable, but you need to be willing to forego your church’s comfort and preferences to selflessly serve your community, to meet them where they are at and to conduct your ministry in a way that is attractive and relevant within your community. Therefore, change is necessary to remain effective.
4) No Church Is All Christ Calls It To Be.
No matter how healthy a church is, no church is all that God wants it to be; no church is perfect. So we need to continually make change for improvement.
5) Present Health is the Result of Past Change.
I am willing to bet that the past growth and success or your healthy church came about because of a change. Think through your history of growth and consider what changes brought about those periods of success. Think about where your church would be today if those changes had not been made. If you want to see continued growth for your healthy church, keep changing!
Now, the best change comes when you first decide which things should never change; these are the non-negotiables of your ministry. Next week I’ll give you a paradigm to help you determine which things should change and which should never change. Sign up for my weekly Tuesday advice email at the bottom of this page to make sure you don’t miss it!