Are you a pastor trying to make needed changes in the church, but meeting a lot of resistance every time you introduce something new, like a worship song, curriculum or order of service?
Here’s a universal truth that I discovered through decades of experience trying to bring needed change in a church:
New music is not worth fighting over. Neither is a new church name, new curriculum, new anything.
Yes, change may be necessary. But we need to get there by fighting the important battles, not the trivial ones.
Fighting over musical style, stage design and what we wear to church are as trivial as battles get.
So what is worth fighting for?
- Becoming a friendly church is a cause worth fighting for
- Reaching new people is a cause worth fighting for
- Getting greater involvement in worship is a cause worth fighting for
- Going deeper in prayer is a cause worth fighting for
- Better discipleship is a cause worth fighting for
- Reaching new generations is a cause worth fighting for
- Respecting previous generations is a cause worth fighting for
- Scriptural integrity is a cause worth fighting for
- Reaching out to the poor is a cause worth fighting for
- Becoming a more loving church is a cause worth fighting for
Whether those things happen with new music or old? Wearing formal or casual clothes? Teaching from old or new curriculum?
That’s not worth fighting over.
Emphasizes What Matters – And Only What Matters
What do we do when we’re certain that a change in the music or the curriculum or the order of service is necessary in order for us to win the causes that are worth fighting for? Keep emphasizing what matters and don’t get distracted in your heart or your message by things that don’t matter.
We need to spend less time saying things like “if we don’t introduce new songs we’ll lose the next generation” and “I can’t wait to start that new series this weekend!” and spend more time struggling with questions like “what are we really doing to reach the people no one else is reaching?” and “what does deeper worship actually look like?”
It’s important to keep the emphasis where it belongs. On the essentials like outreach, worship, prayer and discipleship. As pastors, people need to see that the mission matters more to us than the method. Even if it means giving up that cool, new method we really love – or abandoning the older method we’re comfortable with.
I’m a fan of the new worship music and new discipleship curriculum. We never let any dust gather on them in our church. But if classic hymns and 50-year-old curriculum worked better for us, we’d use it!
When we really take the mission seriously, we’ll stop wasting our time fighting over old traditions vs new fads. Instead, we’ll be led to something deeper, greater and more genuine than either of them.
The Mission Comes First
Too many of us (me included) get so convinced that we need to use the new, cool way to reach people that we start putting off a vibe that we’re more excited about using new methods than we are about reaching new people.
On the other side, there are those who are so enamored with the older styles that they’ve made an idol out of them.
Whatever side of the new/traditional divide you’re on, singing the songs you like (or that you think others will like) is far less important than doing whatever is necessary for God’s mission to be accomplished in his church.
People follow our heart more than our words. If we say the mission matters, but spend too much of our time, energy and passion on things that aren’t the mission, that’s what people will follow.
We need to keep first things first. Always.
When we do, we’re more likely to help the church get where it needs to go, even if we end up travelling on a path we didn’t expect to walk on.
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