“The problem for us today is that stability is no longer the norm.”
John P. Kotter
A Princeton student once asked his professor, Albert Einstein, “Why are you giving us the identical test as last year’s?” The brilliant scientist answered, “Because this year, the answers are different.” Einstein’s lesson to his student is well taken. In our ever-changing world, what worked last year doesn’t necessarily work this year.
Our ultimate goal as a church is to help persons become deeply committed Christians and participate in God’s ongoing work in the world. Yet, last year’s approach to realizing that goal may no longer be effective. Looking for new answers to effectively reach our goal is the heart of church leadership.
Last week in this blog, I argued for the difference between “method” and “core value.” The two are often confused in many organizations, particularly in the church. The unfortunate result is emotional attachment to “method” rather than advancing a “core value” with energy, intelligence, imagination and love. If something in that last sentence sounds vaguely familiar then you have been paying attention in worship. It is one of the constitutional questions that will be asked this Sunday of your newly elected leaders.
We worship a God who is constantly on the move. Through the lips of the prophet Isaiah God declares, “Look! I’m doing a new thing! (Isaiah 4319)” Throughout scripture, we see a God of tremendous urgency in advancing God’s purposes. Methods change but the mission doesn’t.
Occasionally your leaders will try something new to advance God’s purposes in this place. It may be a change in the Bible translation used in our shared worship or in how we do the work of evangelism. And inevitably someone will say, “We have never done it that way.” If you will become quiet and listen carefully you may hear God’s response, “Precisely!”