So, one of the reasons I haven't posted here in awhile is that my laptop finally crashed. Thanks to a generous Pastor Appreciation gift from our church I was able to go out and get a new one. And then the fun started...
Getting everything I could from the backup hard drive to transfer over to the new laptop, trying to get the old stuff to run on the new platform, trying to figure out the new stuff in general. It's been a real challenge. And in the end I find myself saying over and over: I like the old way better!
My kids tell me I sound like the old foggies I used to complain about who never liked anything new. And maybe I am getting there. But the whole thing got me to thinking about change in general and how we respond to it, especially in the church. Here are some conclusions:
1. Change is inevitable. Things are never going to stay the same. In technology, there is always going to be some new big thing. Advancements are always being made. The same with people. People today are by nature going to be different than the folks of a generation ago. Not better or worse, just different. Times change, tastes change, it's a part of life.
2. Some change is good. For the most part, we don't want things to stay the same. None of us, I assume, want to go back to outhouses and such. We like our indoor plumbing. We like our heat and AC. Change is good. We like the advantages the computer age has given us, etc. I think I even see one or two things about this new computer that are actually better than the old one.
Some changes are good. And I think that some of that applies to the church as well. Because people change, we can change things to minister to them better, etc. Let me very clear, though. The Gospel Doesn't Change! We can't improve on the Gospel, and all the watered down, self-help, best life now, love wins, tripe is not a change for the better because it's trying to change the one thing that is unchangeable. But apart from that, some change is good.
It's good that Isaac Watts and others came along and started writing hymns in English, not just singing Psalms. It's good that some folks realize today that we need to go back and start singing those Psalms again as well. It's good that men have risked so much to have the Word of God translated into our own languages. Those are the biggies, but you get the point. Some change is good. However...
3. Change for the sake of change is not good. Some of the computer "updates" are nothing more than cosmetics. Moving buttons from here to there in a program doesn't make it better, it's just different, and that can be annoying. Redesigning a website is often just to make it prettier, it doesn't really help the functionality, etc.
We have to be careful about that in the church. Doing something different just so we can say we did something different isn't always a good thing. If you have a reason for the new change, great. If it is more functional, if it is more biblical, if it is truly more helpful, great. But change for the sake of change isn't always a good. And that's primarily because it annoys people. Which brings me to the last idea.
4. Our resistance to change is often about comfort. Let's be honest. I like my old computer because I was used to it. The keyboard buttons felt "right" because I'd been using them for 7 years. These new ones are hard for me to type on. Not because they are not good buttons, but because they aren't "my" buttons. I like the way the old programs worked because I was used to them. I guess I'll eventually get used to the new programs as well. Of course, as soon as I get used to them, they'll move on to something else.
I think some folks feel that way about changes in the church. It's not that they are bad things, they are just different. I like my old songs. I like my old order of service. I like the old way. And while that does speak to those in leadership to be cautious about changes, to be sure they are meaningful and useful so as not to unnecessarily upset the apple cart; it also speaks to the person in the pew to not be so focused on your own personal comfort that you overlook what might be some good new things.
So, there is a place for change. It's going to happen anyway, whether I like it or not. I have to find that balance between being discerning enough to only make changes that are good and helpful and biblical; and not being overly concerned about my own preferences and comfort. I mean, I've heard one or two people who actually like Windows 8. Go figure.
Well, that's all for now. This new keyboard is making it hard for me to type so I'm going to quit now. Hopefully it'll get better soon.