"Denominations that change their methods and cast off unproductive tradition will flourish and experience God's power, while those
who insist on the status quo will die a slow, unpleasant death."
The D-M Church, p.11
The immediate reaction was against the idea that change is a good thing. We shouldn't simply change because we're guessing -- i.e. the old shooting in the dark method or fling it up against the wall and see if any sticks. But we must be changing. We must be matching ministries to real needs, not just our shortened list of approved needs. We are not supposed to meet the needs of people that are already well; we must listen, evaluate, and respond to the cries for help going on around us all of the time.
The second response was against the word unproductive. We must not continue to pour resources into a ministry that is not effectively reaching our goals. Underproduction (or even worse non-production) is not just measured by the number of people attending -- unless that is our stated goal. The goal of number of people gathered is too simple a goal; even the world, without divine empowerment, can draw a crowd and hit "numbers in attendance" goals. Our goal is life change or discipleship!
Therefore, our goal might be "number of first time visitors who could hear the gospel message" or "number of gospels of John handed out by the counselling staff in one-on-one conversations" or "number of young people responding to the call for full-time ministry" or "number of verses [truly] memorized". Ultimately it comes down to number of people changed by God through our efforts. These goals are daunting because they are totally out of our hands. But we must never shy away from trying to be the best planters and waterers that we can be.
I am not just preaching to the choir. I have led this type of change already in our Sr Hi Youth ministry. We no longer attend an all-night teen evangelism rally, for example, not because it wasn't enjoyed by our teens, but because they were no longer inviting unsaved teens to come with them. We must not change things so often that it becomes chaotic, but we must evaluate and adjust, adapt, rework, revise and cast off the ministries that do not meet very specific discipleship goals. We eliminated an annual fall event because the schedule was too full. We attend another camp in Western NY for winter camp instead of the one that we support in the summer, because it has a better snow camp program (not just fun either).
We must be innovative and creative and purposeful in our decision-making. We should not let "we've always done it this way" or even "we like it the way that it is" come off our lips until we have given the change a fair discussion. [Please note I am not saying that you may not like something that we do or it is sinful! :) ] The reason for keeping a program, ministry of element must only be that it is the only means whereby we may be effective in the discipling of another believer. We should not let "We haven't ever done it that way before" be any more than an observation of teh totally obvious! It must not stall our attempts at fresh, doctrinally conservative methodology. The church is too important to God to give Him second rate, half-baked left-overs! We must serve with passion and zeal that draws others to hear about the One that drives us on in our growth and service.
"Leaders are disciples you are in touch with God... The discipling church is a community of disciples and their leaders seeking to know God and do His will."
The D-M Church, p. 38-39
That is the call of leadership. It is a call to evaluation and change. It is a call to personal growth and stretching. It is a call to fully functioning discipleship at the feet of Jesus Christ. Be committed to growth!
With my deepest affection,
The Disciple-Making Change Monger
(aka Pastor Mike)