It's Wednesday and I'm a day later than I typically try to share my thoughts with you. It's not that I'm tied to blogging on Tuesday contractually or anything, I just started adding it to my "daytimer" on Tuesday months ago and have never changed. So I moved to today for the sake of change. People who have heard me speak more than once or twice know I like change. I rarely drive to work the same way two days in a row. The same scenery gets boring morning after morning. I don't like to vacation in the same place twice. I choose restaurants because of their diverse menus so that when I return there is always something new to try. This drives Marilyn nuts since she finds a favorite item on the menu and sticks with it time after time. I think I may be stricken with the rare disease called "antimonotonitis" or I may have the mental disorder "monotophobea." These are rare conditions indeed. I find out how rare they are around Dallas Bay every time we make a change.
The most recent change is in our service times. We moved Saturday's contemporary service to Sunday at 5. We deleted Sunday morning's 8:15 service altogether. The two remaining services are are at 9 and 10:30. There is no longer a Sunday evening service at 6. Sunday evenings are now full of Bible studies that individuals or families can choose from a variety of teachers on a variety of subjects. The multiple services, especially the three on Sunday morning beginning at 8:15, were just too much for the staff to handle over a long period of time.
Most people understood the need for change, but the first rumblings of discord came at the last meeting of my leadership class last Sunday night. I started having people tell me that they were behind the change 100% even though many others were not. I had another tell me that they were not one of the complainers and that they were praying for me and the rest of the staff. These reports of support and prayer were the first I had heard about any such complaints about the change. One fellow said that he had prayed for us because some people would allow the staff to work themselves into the ground if some people had their way. One person spoke up and said ,"You know pastor, some folks just don't like change of any kind." Once again I was reminded that while I viewed the change as a "shot in the arm " and a "breath of fresh air" my opinion was not shared by all.
This all happened as I was planning for my series "Couch vs. the Cross." It began to occur to me that change always involves movement. Change in a positive sense means you are moving forward and negatively means you are taking steps backward. But change always involves activity. The couch, in my series, symbolizes inactivity. To sit on the couch is to watch the world go by before your eyes. Someone once told me that life is a parade. Some choose to march in the parade. Some choose to stand by the road and observe the parade. And some ask, "Is there a parade?" To move forward away from the couch and toward the cross is a struggle for most of us. It takes effort. It stretches us mentally, physically and spiritually. Christ bids us, "Come follow Me", but He does not stand behind us and push. Change is often painful and slow. It is a day by day process. Jesus invites us to take up our cross daily and follow Him. When you are accustomed to inactivity in your own life and the group of people with which you associate are moving it can cause some friction. Remember the Israelites in the wilderness? Part of them wanted to go back to Egypt while others wanted to move on. When the ones who chose to move forward finally entered the Promised Land many of them wanted to stop before the journey was truly complete. Their task was not just to enter Canaan but to conquer its inhabitants as well. The majority wanted to leave the "giants" and the fortified cities alone. They would settle for just a little blessing. While a few wanted all that God had for them. Those moved on and God fought their battles for them.
I like to sustain such an environment so that when change occurs it doesn't hurt too badly. You know if you try to get off the couch and run a marathon the results would be painful if not deadly. The prudent approach would be to walk around the house first and then maybe around the block. Eventually, people who get off the couch and experience the adrenaline associated with movement and change will never be satisfied with only complaining about it. They even may come to embrace it and the challenges change affords all of us to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. Or maybe not.