Overcoming Our Discomfort With Change
The world will not be saved by people who stay as they are, where they are. - Walter Brueggeman
I've spent the last twenty-one years serving and leading in the Church, and over the course of those twenty-one years, I've learned a few things about people and organizations.
One of the many important things I've learned is that most people believe in the idea of change and transformation as long as it doesn't affect them, or move them out of their comfort zone.
For example, early in my tenure at a church where I'd been called as the Lead Pastor, I received a phone call from an irate parishioner. She had taken umbrage at a number of the new things that we'd adopted since my arrival.
"I know the pastor search committee told you that our church wanted to change," she said to me at last, "but the fact of the matter is, most of us like things just the way they are."
She went on to tell me about her "favorite" pastor---an interim pastor who had come to the church years earlier. He was in his post for just a little over a year and did absolutely nothing to help the church through the transition. Instead, he told them they were great, and not to change a thing.
Almost a decade later, the church was in financial trouble, worship attendance was abysmal, there were no real mission programs in place, there were no families, hardly any teens, and very few young adults.
I pointed this out to the parishioner on the phone and told her that if the church continued with things "just the way they are," there would be no church to speak of in less than ten years. It didn't go over well, to say the least.
The truth is, we all act like that parishioner when it comes to the needed change and transformation that it will take to get us from the sidelines of our faith into the game. Most of us tend to like things the way they are, even if we know deep inside that "the way things are" isn't a life-giving way forward.
Our comfort becomes an idol to us when that happens. And no amount of posturing, wordsmithing or attempts to reshape the narrative will gloss over that fact. We can't have it both ways.
Richard Rohr puts it like this:
When people say piously "Thy kingdom come" out of one side of their mouth, they need also to say, "My kingdom go!" out of the other side.
May you find the courage and the strength to forego your own comfort for the sake of the kingdom of God. May you let your own kingdom go as you desire more fully to embrace the reign of Christ in the world and in your life.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.