I have just started reading the book, "Take The Next Step" by Lovett H. Weems Jr.. In the introduction Weems contrasts change via revolution and change via evolution. While not mutually exclusive the two are set up in tension. This got me thinking, there have been times of development in the natural world as well as the developed world that revolution has been the necessary evolution. Small incremental change is still change, yet there are times when the system needs the great shock of revolution.
Now the stated concern about change via revolution is the break in continuity with the past and the people of the past. My challenge to that concern is there are times when a radical break from what has gotten us to this point is exactly what is needed. The evolution of change, remembering not all change is beneficial or leading to health, can bring us to the point where it is the very past and continuity which is causing the problem.
Do I think that is where we are at in the church? Yes and no. Do I feel like there needs to be a revolution yes. Do I feel like we need to throw everything out, no. There are structures, mindsets and practices of the church which no matter what their historical continuity need to be abandoned. This will be a difficult and pain filled process. Still if this does not happen the witness of God through the church will be greatly diminished. At the same time we must remember the roots of who we, the called and sent people of God, are. Jesus Christ remains the center and head of the church. God remains to be the ultimate direction of all activity of the church, and the Holy Spirit continues to be our guide, counselor and empowerer.
The evolution of the church has brought us to the point where half measures will result in just that, half measures. The time has come for the next step to be a radical change in the church. This may not be popular by all, change rarely is. To accomplish this change will require leaders willing to step out, and lead the church into the next steps. This will require leaders who will build collaboration and community in ways that the kingdom of God will be not only talked about but experienced by a broken and hurting world.