Dead Churches Fear Change

             Within churches looking for new pastors are leaders who fear change because it represents insecurity to them. They don’t know what type of relationship they will have with the new pastor and they certainly don’t want to lose their influence and position of authority in the congregation. Fear is an emotion that causes people to hide from or avoid their problems. It is a core issue in human beings that has plagued man since Adam hid from God. In answer to the Lord’s question, “Where are you?” Adam replied by saying that he became afraid at the sound of God because he was naked and so hid himself (Gen. 3:9-10) Fear causes us to retreat and circumvent issues that should be dealt with. And mausoleum (i.e. dead or dying) churches certainly have many issues confronting them; but they must “wake up” from their deadness and refusal to change!
            As a transitional pastor, I have had elders warn me not to make any changes because change would be viewed as condescending to the prior pastor whom they loved dearly. This was not the prior pastor’s view; only those who devoted themselves to his vision and ministry style. Just tweaking an order of service was tampering with the ‘holy grail.’ The retired pastor didn’t mind his replacement changing things; so why should the elders feel so insecure? They were weak leaders who did not prepare themselves or their congregation for change. They were content living in a mausoleum and thought the sheep felt the same way.
            Fear of change is a definite symptom of weak and failed leadership. What makes matters worse is leadership being possessive of a church that really belongs to Christ! “It’s been this way for a long time and we like it this way. We want no changes to our church.” Such attitudes keep the church encrypted; and the only new comers that stay after one visit are other dead people who are comfortable hanging around a cemetery.

Change is good
            For many leaders, change is frightening because it represents the unknown – something they can’t control. Whenever there is conflict in a church and a pastor has resigned or been forced to leave, change in vision and ministry direction is inevitable. There is no avoiding it! Change also represents the loss of something dear to us whether it is our job, a loved one, our health, our traditions, our pastor, our comfort, or our stability.
            From the beginning in the Garden of Eden to the culmination of Scripture in Revelation God has ordained change. Why then do we fight against it, demanding our own wills, and desiring the status quo? Change is what the Lord uses to grow us spiritually, to help us understand him more fully, and to prepare us for the final and perfect change when at the last trumpet, the dead will be raised and transformed into the imperishable (1 Cor. 15:52-53). Since change is part of God’s decretive will, it must be good.
            Conflict and transition in a church may be forced change, but is to be seen as occurring within God’s providence. And if God is at work in us willing and working his good pleasure (Phil. 2:13), which is always for our best, then change must also be good for God’s people (Ps. 73:1). Understanding this assures us that all things will work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28), even the bad things that may have happened because of church conflict. Leaders therefore are admonished “to wake up” to the fact that change is good because it comes from God.