“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” — General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army
One of the things I’ve learned over my years as a pastor is this: change does not always equal relevance. Often we made changes because we were trying to answer questions no one was asking. Our answers were good; unfortunately they were also irrelevant.
Yet I’ve always seen the wisdom in General Shinseki’s words. Our task is not to keep pace with every change and breakthrough, but to speak to it in a way that makes sense and leads towards transformation. Change isn’t always easy, even when it’s necessary.
- New musical styles may not be your style of choice. I’ve often joked, “What will I do when rap becomes the predominant music style of a new generation?” Move to Canada, maybe. But if rap will reach a new generation for Jesus … I’ll bust out a few moves.
- Communication styles must adapt to new ways of learning. Our goal is not to have good content. Our goal is to make a good connection with good content. If that means we adopt new methods or become better story tellers, we’ll do so because to not do so means we go unheard.
- The church must stay within the ballpark when it comes to new technologies or ways of connecting. Typically, non-profits (churches especially) tend to run five to ten years behind the curve with new technologies. Do you know how to send text messages? If not, you’re missing the number one way people under the age of 20 communicate.
I’ve heard it said — and I’m sure you have, too — that we must not change simply for change sake. That’s true. But let me amend it: we must change for our mission’s sake lest we risk irrelevance.