Thursday, September 2, 2010

Do It Different

Change. It's not always a bad thing, but it is something that happens often.

Many changes are going on around me:
1. We got a new senior minister at the church I am working with
2. Many of my close friends are farther from me right now
3. I'm looking for opportunities to do an internship
4. Our school has come out with a "Spiritual Development Plan" for this year

When we think of change we often have negative connotations to it. There is something that rises up within us that has something to do with fear of the unknown. We aren't sure if what we do will actually make a difference or if it does, will it be a good difference? The saying, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" comes to mind here. But my question is, what if there is something better. What if even though we have experienced great things, what if there is something more for us to experience?

I am going to do something I never thought I would do. I am going to quote Winnie the Pooh when he said, "if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got."

This quote has rang through my head since I first heard it a year ago in my class Church Growth and Planting. There is much truth and depth to these words, but it's so simple that we just don't even think about it as we continue on in our typical routine that we are familiar with and have been familiar with for years.

I was a part of a change over the summer. I was helping a friend of mine develop some changes in his student ministry and lead through them. There has been a need for change for several years. The student ministry had leveled off about 3 years ago and even started declining in the past year. My friend, Jason, was hired on a year ago and asked not to change things immediately but to evaluate where things were, study what needed to be done, and then after a year make some changes. He did a great job evaluating and looking at things to do and he finally, after much reading and planning, came up with some things that needed to be changed. The thing which perplexed me the most was the night he cast the vision and the need for the changes he was implementing. For the most part people were supportive, however, there was a family who was very outspoken about how there was no reason to make the changes he was making and she even pointed out how every other church in the area was not doing the things that we were planning on doing. The problem was that every other church in the area had leveled off on their attendance and effectiveness to reach people with the Gospel.

If you do what you've always done, you will get what you have always got.

It reminds me of the movie, Bobby Jones, A Stroke of Genius. Bobby Jones was an incredible golfer early on, before the era of Jack Nicholas and Arnold Palmer. At one point in the movie Bobby is playing in a tournament and gets in a deep sand bunker that has walls towering higher than his head. His first attempt to get out he hits the ball straight into the wall. His second attempt, the same thing, and his fourth. Until finally, his caddy says to him, "You know the definition of insanity, boy? It's doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting to get different results."

It is easy and natural to do what we have always done, because it is familiar to us, but when we do that we will reach a certain point and level off, where we get the same results every time.

Even when things are going well and you are growing (not just in your organization, but also in your life, as a person), it is necessary to learn to change. In 1997 Tiger Woods won the Masters by a record number of strokes and the next year changed his swing, because he knew that if he wanted to continue to be successful he would have to change the way he played.

I have begun to implement some changes in my own life after hearing some of this. I realized I was allowing myself only to be influenced by the teachings of one preacher and one or two professors. I understand that it is good for me to be close to and listen to these people, but they are limited on what they can teach me because they are each only one person. So, I started listening to other preachers, which is easier now than it has ever been thanks to iTunes, as well as really soaking up other professors.

Furthermore, I have been exploring different places to go on an internship. While I have learned a lot from being in the Greater Dayton area, I will be limited if I don't experience how people in other places, with different styles of leadership work to influence others. I have sought out 2 different internships thus far and neither of them are too close to home. While I will miss my family and friends around here, I understand that it is necessary if I want to expand my leadership ability.

Change is going to happen, it could be good, but you may not know if you try to fight it the whole time! Embrace change, look for ways you can change to make it to the next level, you will be surprised at the things you are capable of.