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change versus transformation

I spoke this morning for a small, struggling church here in Denver.  Early in my ministry years, I tended to be almost exclusively focused on growing the church — the church I happened to be serving at the time.  My “kingdom perspective” was quite limited.  Over the last ten years or so, God has expanded my concern for the larger kingdom, including small, struggling churches.

The reality is this: there are many small, struggling churches here in the United States.

The reasons are as varied as the churches themselves.  Division, dishonesty, changing neighborhoods, lack of vision, lack of money.  The list could go on and on.  In fact, it does.

Small churches are not more faithful than their larger counterparts; likewise, larger churches are not more successful than the small ones.  Each serves a different purpose in the kingdom.  If the focus is being healthy, then even a small church can bear fruit for God.

As I drove away this morning two words came to mind: change and transformation.

Most small, struggling churches believe they need to change certain things in order to grow: location, leadership, worship style, times, carpet, pews, etc.  Rarely does the key to growth lie in one change.  Or even in multiple changes.  Change, by its’ very nature, is trying to modify something from the past.  So … we change from a traditional style of worship to a contemporary one.  We change from a gray-haired pastor to one who wears wrinkled, untucked shirts.

While change may help, what is really needed is transformation.  The biblical model of transformation means to create something new.  Jesus taught this principles when he spoke of putting the good news into old wineskins; it’s not good for the gospel or the wineskins.  What is needed is new wineskins.

Change is difficult; transformation requires a movement of God.