December 21, 2016

What is Deep Change?

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On today’s Whiteboard Wednesday, Rick Veenstra emphasizes the importance of deep change in your ministry and the level of effort and time it takes to achieve transformational systemic change.

The church in America has basically two choices: deep change or slow death. Slow death is kind of obvious. Deep change is not so obvious. Recently, someone asked Rick, “What is deep change? And what does deep change look like?”

Rick discussed deep change using the Chicago Cubs as an illustration. In 2012, the Cubs lost 101 games (out of 162). Four years later, in 2016, they won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. In the regular season, the Cubs won 103 games out of 162.

How is it possible for a team to go from 100 losses in a single year, and four years later over a hundred wins and a World Series championship?

The answer involves deep change. Two players out of the twenty-five man roster were on both the 2012 and 2016 teams. A complete change took place for two of the 25 players. What else took place? The players that were on the team were no-quit winners. It was a team that did not quit no matter what – a team that knew how to play defense, run the bases and take walks, be patient, and simply get on base. Why? Because in baseball you can’t score runs unless you get on base! The point is that for the players to go from 100 losses to 100 wins in four years required deep change.

What does this look like in the life of the Church of Jesus Christ? There has been a decline for more than a half of a century in the North American church. What is it going to take for us to move away from slow death towards a transformational path where we actually move toward the Great Commission of Jesus Christ? How are we going to make disciples of all nations? It is going to require churches to undergo deep, transformational systemic change.

If a church has been building buildings, maybe it needs to stop and instead focus on planting many churches. This is considered deep change.

Consider a church that has concentrated their efforts on staffing and paying for everything, but then decide to make a shift towards deep change. Instead on focusing on developing paid staff, they begin to focus more on develop disciples. A deep, systemic change would involve making disciples who make more disciples, and so forth. It is very difficult to do. But it is truly important for the sake of the advance of the gospel.

Reflecting back to the sports analogy, deep change is a big deal and can be difficult to achieve. To go from 100 losses to 100 wins in just four years is very difficult and requires a phenomenal change.

The takeaway message here is that deep change is hard and takes longer than any of us can imagine. But I can assure you, it is worth it.

In the end, deep change is worth the loss, the pain, frustration, attention, conflict, and difficult conversations. It’s worth it because it moves us toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission that Jesus has given us.

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