Growth in a church – both spiritual and numerical – always involves change.
In any church, excepting the tiny minority who simply do not want to grow, there may still be something in all of us that says ‘I want the church to grow – but not to change’. Yet, growth is change.
There are understandable reasons why we might resist change. Change can be seen as an imposition on ‘my’ territory. It can be seen as a step into the unknown, and as naturally cautious people, we’d rather have a bird in the hand than two in the bush.
Yet for those who see change as a threat in a church context, I would guess the greatest reason is a misunderstanding of what church is.
Whilst God does not need church (for he does not need anything), in his grace he chooses to use you and I in his great plan of Matthew 28 v 18-20: to make disciples of all nations, baptising them and teaching them with the Holy Spirit’s help.
In other words, church exists as a disciple-making community to carry out God’s plan for God’s world. If that is not my starting point, it is inevitable that my view of church and my attitude towards change will be derived from my own preferences rather than God’s disciple-making strategy.
So if I begin with ‘how can Cambray meet my musical and preaching preferences?’ then change away from something that already makes me comfortable will be resisted.
Yet God’s plan for God’s world requires us to look outwardly not inwardly, asking the question ‘how can I be part of changing Cambray, so that as a church we can better make disciples?’
In this way, personal style preferences are subservient to the greater goal of being effective disciple-makers, the key Biblical consideration in trying to answer ‘what groups should we run?’, ‘what leadership structure should we have?’, ‘what membership policy is best?’, ‘what instruments should we use?’ and ‘what is the most effective preaching style?’
Together we are a disciple-making community, each having a role to play in the growth and change that God desires for us. We are all ministers of the New Covenant, everyone able to minister to everyone else, coming to our weekly gatherings not for personal preference box ticking, but on the lookout for others to engage with, new people to welcome, fellow disciples to minister to.
So now for the interactive part. Next time you come to a church gathering, before the ‘service’ begins and after it finishes, start your own ‘service’ by welcoming and engaging with one person you haven’t spoken to before.
This is one way in which we can be more like a peach and less like a coconut (Pastor Simon Benham’s image I’ve used before in sermons).
That is, we should be peach-like: easy to get into, accessible from the outside, but solid and substantial in the very centre.
Yet too easily we can be like a coconut, hard to get into, no easy access points for outsiders, and ultimately nothing solid at the centre. Which are we, peach or coconut?
We are each responsible for Cambray’s growth and therefore each part of its change. Please join with myself, the staff and leadership team in making Cambray a growing, peach-like disciple-making community.
With every blessing,