Union Ridge Church

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

by Reverend Dan on September 22, 2022
“I have become all things to all men, so that by all means I might save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22

Change is hard. There is comfort in tradition and a sense of security in the past. Cherished memories live there. The “unknown” does not exist.

But times and things change. The world my generation grew up in no longer exists. Therefore, in order to remain relevant in the world and time in which we live, we must change also. But not change simply for the sake of change or because it’s the latest fad. Change for a purpose with a goal in mind. And in order to accept and embrace that change, the first thing that has to change is us. The way we think. Our willingness to see things in new ways. Our willingness to let go of the ways of yesterday and make decisions based on the future and not the past.

I am very proud of the church I pastor. In the last two and a half years decisions have been made that have shown that the people there are willing to look forward; to make sure the church remains relevant in our community and world for generations to come. It hasn’t always been easy - there is always pain in change. Letting go of the past can be daunting and scary. But we must remember that those who came before us faced that very same change. They had to make decisions that were hard for them, decisions that looked to the future and took them out of their comfort zone. They had to make decisions that challenged their way of thinking and of understanding the world. And it’s only because they were willing to do that, that we are still here today.

Moving worship outside, changes in the format and style, changes in the use of technology, an increased focus on children and youth ministry, changes in buildings, changes in the polity of the church, more attention to missions . . . all this and much more has been done to make sure the Gospel of Jesus Christ continues to be shared so that God’s message of salvation and grace and mercy and forgiveness is as relevant going forward as it has been in the past.

God is blessing that willingness to change. While many churches are struggling in these post-Covid times, we have seen incredible growth. People from different strata of life (cultures, age, socio-economic) continue to join our community of faith and we all grow because of that. New ideas are now seen (for the most part) not as something to fear but as opportunities to grow. There is a new energy among the majority of the congregation, positive energy that looks for what’s possible and why we should implement new things instead “what won’t work” and of why we shouldn’t.

In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul said, “I do not yet consider myself to have taken hold of all this but forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” We’re just like Paul. Not there yet but working on it. That gives me hope.

Change is hardest on us old folks. We like our ways and like to tell the younger generation about how much better things were “back in the day.” The funny thing is, we used to hate when our grandparents told us that very same thing. We thought they were old and out of touch. It may do the generations (mine included) well to look in the mirror and remind ourselves of the time we were in their shoes and new ways seemed as natural as the changing of the seasons. Because that’s what change is: a new season. God never changes – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. But the world does. And times do. It’s our job to find new ways to share our never-changing God in an ever-changing world.

“Abba Father, thank You for the opportunity You give us to share the message of salvation with others, and for the wisdom to know that while the gift never changes, the box we wrap it in must speak to the culture in which the gift is opened. Make us like Paul – all things to all people – in order that by all means some will be saved. This we pray in Jesus’ name, AMEN.”