Summary: God desires to use deacon leadership to lead His churches through changes that inevitably come up in the life of a church.
God’s Glorious Church
Deacons Leading as Change Agents
Woodlawn Baptist Church
May 1, 2005
Do you like change? You’ve probably heard about the man from the back mountains of Tennessee who found himself one day in a large city, for the first time standing outside an elevator. He watched as an old, haggard woman hobbled on, and the doors closed. A few minutes later the doors opened and a young, attractive woman marched smartly off. The father hollered to his youngest son, "Billy, go get your mother."
Change is a funny thing. Most people acknowledge that change is a necessary and regular part of life; but it sure does a number on our emotions. Society is changing at a faster rate than at any other time in our history today, which is easy to see from the number of items that are available to us today that weren’t even in existence a number of years ago, like air conditioning, antibiotics, credit cards, space travel, DVDs, smoke detectors, and much, much more.
Think about the way we travel today. I’ve read that when the railroads were first introduced to the U.S., some folks feared that they’d be the downfall of the nation! Here’s an excerpt from a letter written by Martin Van Buren, then Governor of New York to President Jackson, dated January 31, 1829:
As you may know, Mr. President, ’railroad’ carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by ’engines’ which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed.
If only he could see us now! As we think about change this morning, I want deal with church change. While change makes most people uncomfortable to some degree, few changes unsettle people like changes in church. Most of you would say that you want our church to grow and prosper. However, church growth requires more of us than just saying so. Church change requires strong biblical leadership, so as I speak to you as deacons and as a church body in general, understand that one of the greatest opportunities you have to lead your church is to serve them by helping them navigate the troubling waters of change.
Today I want to identify for you four types of change that occur in a church, then some of the reasons church members most often resist change, and then I’ll close by identifying several characteristics our deacons must possess if they are to lead our church through the changes that will inevitably come up in the future of our church.
Types of Change
While there are many changes that could take place in the life of a church, there are four basic types of change in which all change will fit. Changes come from within our body, sometimes out of necessity, and other times just because we want to try something we haven’t yet tried. Other changes come from without, such as changes in city or federal law that we must adhere to.
Changes In Structure
Changes in structure could mean any number of things. We experienced a change in structure this year when we adopted an annual budget. We experienced a change in structure when we hired a youth pastor. Changes in structure have to do with everything from changing church policies, staff, programs, adding Sunday School classes or adding to our building.
Since February I have been preaching to you about the Lord’s church. I want you to know that I’m not just preaching this series to fill up my calendar, but so you’ll be prepared for some changes in structure that will take place in the future. I want you to understand what a healthy and successful church is, and why we are not where God wants us to be. I want you to understand what the role of the pastor is, and what part deacons play in our church, because we’ll be working through some changes in structure concerning these things. As I speak on the subject of worship and discipleship and evangelism, I want you to see that changes must be made, many of which will simply be changes in structure.
Changes In Technology
An illustration of this can be seen in the increased use of things like computers and phones. I don’t know about you, but I’m glad churches were willing to embrace many of the changes that have taken place in the last few decades. It amazes me today to think of the way churches fought and split over installing toilets in the building. Our grandfathers argued about whether it was scriptural for churches to have kitchens. Now we can’t imagine ministry without those things. They’ve been wonderful.