The topic of change is huge. My book, Changing Churches tackles the issue of tremendous change in churches in recent decades. Today I’ll give illustrations of the tremendous changes in our culture in the last sixty years. Later I’ll comment on changes in churches.
For thousands of years “change was slow, controlled, accessible; now it convulses at warp speed” says Richard A. Swenson in his 1992 book Margins. Swenson says we pay a price for each change we face. You may recall his Life Change Index which assigned health risk to the changes experienced, detailing the various ways change overload affects us. Many of us have activity overload, choice overload, commitment overload, debt overload, decision overload, information overload, noise overload, possession overload, technology overload, and work overload. And he names even more.
If change overload was a problem in 1992, imagine what it is more than twenty years later. Does anyone not have an overload problem now? Our world has changed at a rate never before experienced. The world population has grown from two billion people in 1800 to three billion in 1964, to six billion in 1999, to seven billion this year. Think of the ramifications of this. These figures boggle my mind. How have these change affected us, the world, our culture, and the church?
Changes Grandpa Remembers
Some of you may have seen or heard the forwarded email, (condensed here) “How old is Grandpa?” A grandchild asks his grandpa’s age. Grandpa replies:
"I was born before television, penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, contact lenses, Frisbees and the pill. There were no credit cards, laser beams, or ballpoint pens. Man had not invented panty hose, air conditioners, dishwashers or clothes dryers and the clothes were hung out to dry in the fresh air and man had not yet walked on the moon. We got married first, and then lived together. Every family had a mother and a father……"
"Grass was mowed. Coke was a cold drink. Pot was something your mother cooked in. Rock music was you grandmother's lullaby. Aides were helpers in the principal's office. Hardware was found in a hardware store. Chip meant a piece of wood. Software was not even a word. We were the last generation to believe that a lady needed a husband to have a baby. How old is Grandpa? He is fifty-nine. Or he may be sixty-one by now."
On this Rock
In view of the change overload we all face in life, and in view of the change and corruption of our culture, the church must be a rock, a stable place. We, the church, must maintain the core doctrines and traditions of the faith. We must teach the Word in its entirety. We must hold fast to our unchanging God in Christ Jesus. “O Thou who changes not, abide with me.” Abiding in Him anchors us and also transforms us. We are new creations in Christ. This is significant change.
“On this rock I will build my church.” Matthew 16:18