Those words might be some of the scariest in the English language. I’m not sure anything can upset the delicate balance of nature quite like changing worship times. For some it feels like an earthquake, for others it is a declaration of war. Changing worship times is a difficult task even for the most seasoned churchgoer.
For years, pastors have gone into a local church context and for a myriad of reasons have made the trek to changing worship times. This trek is sometimes known as the “pastor killer” because so few pastors make it out alive. And while I kid (a little), the reality is that changing worship times is a serious decision and will impact many of the people who call that church their home.
Why is something like this so hard?
Well, the first answer is easy: Corporate change has individual implications, and for the individual change can be scary! Anytime something bigger than “us” begins to change it can feel a lot like the world is spiraling out of control. When we lose control (even if it just perceived control), vulnerability starts to creep into the mind.
The second answer is that we change for those that aren’t yet here. Most pastors will tell you that they are changing worship times to reach the un-churched, to become more relevant in their context. The hard part about this answer is that it tends to make others feel devalued, as if the current body of Christ doesn’t matter. In these moments change looks as if we are saying, “Out with the old, and in with the new.”
Vulnerability, the feeling of being devalued or “left out.” I think it is easy to see why changing worship times are so emotional. Actually, the hardest part of change is that it involves HUMANS.
And yet, despite all of that we will still push forward with change. Why? Because the church exists for those that aren’t yet here, because the church is designed to change and evolve to meet the needs of the next generation.
This is the hard part of not changing: If we don’t change we will die. If we don’t find ways to reach more people, can we really live out the Matthew 28 command to go and make disciples? I suggest the answer is no, and every church out there has an option: Do we want to be a moment? Or do we want to be a movement? Movements have to change.