What is Deep Change?
This is a great question posed by an insightful leader in a church in our region of the Reformed Church in America. Since our society is more akin to the New Testament world than the one in which I grew up after World War II, and the North American Church has been largely in decline for more than a half century, I have said for a long time that our churches, regions and denominations have only two options before them: deep change or slow death. I still believe this to be true. However, a description of deep change is not intuitively obvious to the casual observer. So what are some examples of deep change?
Our region consists of just under two hundred churches and over the previous decade we have been able to organize an average of one new church per year. We believe this is insufficient to develop a church multiplication movement, so we have reoriented our staff and approach to organize two to three new churches per year for this decade. To me this is an example of deep change in an organization.
If a local church moves from not planting a new church for the last fifty years to planting a new church every five years, that is deep change which requires significant shifts in every facet of the life of that congregation. If a local church moves from program development as a primary focus to people development (or disciple making), that is deep change in a congregation. If a local church places the needs of those who do not know Christ in their community ahead of those who know Christ within their congregation, such a shift involves deep change. If a church decides to move toward people in the community who are not Christ followers and meet them where they are, rather than expecting them to come to the church, such a course correction is deep change. If a church is moving toward the end of its viability as a congregation and decides to become a legacy church by closing and redeploying all of her assets into a new ministry or church, rather than hanging on to her survival, this would be change of the deepest sort.
A colleague writes, “The journey toward deep change is the journey of discipleship, taking up the cross, deep change always requires sacrifice; voting against one’s own interests to look to the interests of the kingdom of God. “ (Doug McClintic, Church Multiplication Catalyst)
Deep change is God’s call on the church in North America in the 21st century! Who will heed the call?
Deep change is not for the faint of heart because it requires leaders who are willing to create tension and manage conflict, since it is IMPOSSIBLE TO OVERESTIMATE THE POWER OF THE STATUS QUO, even if the way things are is not all that great!
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