Transformation or stability.
Sometimes it seems like every pastor I meet lives in one of those two camps.
On the transformation side are churches with names like Catalyst, Thrive and Elevation. They're led by pastors who are constantly driving for their church to be an agent of change. Some have even changed the title of "pastor" to "lead catalyst" to reflect that. These churches thrive on finding new, innovative ways to present the Gospel.
On the other side are churches and pastors that are digging in. They're fighting what often feels like a losing battle against waves of negative societal change. They like to describe their church as Bible-believing, fundamentalist, and/or "First (insert your denominational name here) Church". One church sign I saw recently told everyone who drove by that they were Old-Fashioned, Hymn-Singing and Bible Believing.
So who's right? The church as change agent? Or the church as a stable foundation?
Both. And neither.
Both are right, because the church needs to be a transformative community. And the church needs to stand for eternal truths.
Neither are right if they're picking one side to the exclusion of the other, because we're not called to be one or the other, but both/and.
Any church that sacrifices eternal truths for current trends is making a big mistake. And any church that refuses to change their methods to reach a new generation with eternal truths is just as wrong.
One is too trendy to last. The other is too stuck-in-a-rut to be relevant.
Most churches emphasize one or the other. A healthy church does both.
The Dichotomy of Both/And
People go to church for two reasons.
Reason 1: To radically change their life.
Reason 2: To connect with something/someone who never changes.
Transformation and stability. Two contrasting goals that people expect to get from the same place.
And it's not just that some people want transformation and some want stability. Most people want both. At the same time.
And, whether they want it or not, everyone truly needs both. At the same time. No wonder pastoring is so hard.
A healthy church is called to be a community of transformation and stability. At the same time.
But we also need a stable foundation, a solid rock on which to stand. Many people who seek out a church, do so because they need a place to reconnect with the God who is "the same yesterday today and forever".People need the church to be a community where they can experience the transforming power of the Gospel. There is nothing else that will change us from sinners to saints, or continually push us to become greater reflections of the image of Christ. Learning to take up our cross daily is a life-denying process. That kind of inside-out transformation can't happen in a business-as-usual church.