Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Changing How We Change

Change is a funny thing..not funny ha-ha but funny...ironic. So let me explain what I know about change. There are three different types of change that I will cover here:

First Order Change:
First-order change is doing more – or less – of something we are already doing. First-order change is always reversible. It is relatively shallow change. Here are the characteristics of this type of change:
Adjustments within the existing structure
Doing more or less of something
Restoration of balance (homeostasis)
New learning is not required
Old story can still be told

In church, first order change goes from chalk boards to dry erase boards, sings more contemporary songs, goes from formal to casual dress, from KJV to NIV, order of worship variations, offering members the option to pay by automatic draft or credit card, offering use of building to 12-step groups or community groups, updating building with new carpet and paint, visitor parking, being "seeker sensitive," adding mood lighting, adding new service or more options for Bible classes, allowing more members to participate in worship planning and execution, etc. First order change is mostly cosmetic but does little to make lasting change.

Second Order Change: Deciding – or being forced – to do something significantly or fundamentally different from what we have done before. The process is irreversible: once you begin, it is impossible to return to the way you were doing before.
New way of seeing things
Shifting gears
Often begins through the informal system
Transformation to something quite different
Requires new learning
New story is told
We fix how we are going to fix what's wrong.

In church second order change would look like: going from a capella to instrumental, having member testimonials of faith, electing progressive men to eldership, allowing women ministers and deacons, Doing praise and worship for entire length of service (no sermon), ministers disciple others for ministry and leadership, impliments change in problem areas even if solutions are being used by other denominations, having small group, supporting new ministries and missionaries, becoming missional, etc.

Third Order Change: Coming to realizations that changed your lives profoundly.
Changing their cosmology of how life works, what happens to them when they take actions and what it pays to do.
Reframes the problem as a solution in use.
Radical change in how we see the problems/solutions
Use of a new system or way of doing things outside the realm of possibilities of second order change.
Irreversible and universal (it changes those around as well)
The new stories from second order change have caused unplanned and unpredicted changes elsewhere in the system

Employing prophetic worship and prophetic ministries, allowing the presence of God to dictate order and length of worship, allowing all members (from children or seniors) to speak what God is moving them to speak or use spiritual gifts, allowing time for the gifts of healing to be utilized in worship time, having a fellowship meal for communion, equpping every member for ministry, every member is discipling and evangelizing, encouraging and supporting cell churches and house churches within the membership, etc.

It is rare that a church change. But I think change is possible if God is allowed to change the hearts and minds of the members and is radical change.

What changes would you like to see in your church?


  1. Interesting post--thought provoking...not sure how I would respond. We are now in a church that follows a strict order of service and yet I do see and have appreciated the benefits from this type of worship service. I will list a few of the benefits and then address some other issues.

    Some benefits I see from the order of service I am presently under---the focus is on Worshipping God and not exalting man. It is very God focused. It follows the Anglican form of service. We read Old and New Testament passages and the Psalms each week--so we are bathing our minds in these at each service. We sing songs that often tie in with the time of the year we are celebrating (ie right now we are celebrating the giving of the Holy Spirit to the church), we have communion every Sunday which really helps me keep shorter accounts and helps me reflect on Christ's death and what He has done for me--I examine my heart, confess my sins, etc. Plus there is grace given --it is a means of grace--I fully believe this. We pray some "rote" prayers, but I find the prayers do reflect and express my heart...we do say the Lord's Prayer each week also and I often pray this prayer daily too because It is such a wonderful prayer that says so much--it would be wrong if I was just saying it--but when it reflects what my heart and where my heart is then I do not believe it is just rote--ie I say, I love you to my hubby each day and several times--but I mean it--it isn't just rote. We do a passing of the peace-ie--we greet one another after praying a prayer of confession of our sins (all together out loud) --we shake hands giving the greeting of Peace or God's peace to them--This is not just rote for me either--we are expressing that we have peace with them because of the forgiveness of our sins and we forgive them their sins etc. We all partake of one cup--this really signifies our untiy in Christ. We sing some other hymns each week that are short that really praise God , sing of his holiness etc--very worshipful. We can go pray with others if we desire. We have the preaching of the word...etc. I find the entire service is focused on God--on who He is, what He has done, on His glory and on His provisions.

    (I will finish in next post)

  2. Now--about your paragraph on prophetic ministry--I do think it would be good to have a time in the service for this and a time for testimony. Perhaps we hinder God's Spirit at times by our schedules of service--I need to reflect more on this. Usually these things--testimonies, prophetic word, etc is done outside of the service--in smaller groups etc.

    As far as change--that ,too ,I would have to think more on--change for the sake of change is not what is needed of course. I have found I love the Anglican worship--they have symbols that go back to Roman days ! Which I find awesome because it links us to the Christians from past ages. For example during the service the cross is carried down the isle to the front of the church and people can bow as it passes. This is because in ancient times a picture of the Roman emperor etc would be paraded through the town and people were made to bow to it--the Christians wouldn't and in rebellion to this they would lift high the cross to symbolize who they would bow to--only the Lord himself. Even praying some of the old prayers--connects me to those that have gone before--there is a unity we have with all believers including all that have gone on before us.

    But I do think there needs to be freedom for God's Spirit to work--does this mean He can't work in a strict type of service? No...does it mean He is restricted, I am not sure. I surely do not feel so....but if people are only going to a service and not having the broader range of fellowship than I would say that could be a bit restrictive.

    Our church does a lot of outreach which has come from God placing great desire upon certain individuals. These individuals have begun different outside ministeries such as CAP (Churches Assisting People)--gives food and money to help the poor in our community, Shepherd's Table--serves food daily to those in need; Neighbor to Neighbor which provides rides for the elderly, the sick and others that can not drive to the doctors etc; Fostering Hope which provides free clothes, toys for those with foster kids; a Christian preschool; Stephen Ministry which is a one on one ministry of coming along someone in need and helping to carry their burdens by listening and praying; people are involved in hospice care etc. Our Church started most of these (the hospice and Stephen Ministry were outside ministries available to our church--but the other ones our church members started). So I have seen God place burdens on individuals who in turn gave us a vision for different outside ministries.

    We have weekly healing service that takes place early Wednesday mornings.

    I guess I better end here!! I think, however, in anything that is done , that God should be glorified, His living presence should be sought (sp?), and there can be different ways of addressing the needs for community, fellowship, prophetic speaking etc.

  3. Hey,if I didn't mention it to you, you should get Paul Miller's Book called, A Praying Life. He , also has a severely handicapped child who is autistic and has to use a computer for communication. He interweaves his lessons on prayer with stories of this situation.

  4. I put the Paul Miller book on my must have list after reading your blog yesterday...I have four books I am currently reading..the gift of ADHD makes that possible.

    The whole idea of change is interesting to me. The thing is...we either change with the demands of a lost and dying world or our churches end up being dinosaurs. Change is awfully touchy though...most people don't want to change...most churches don't want to change.

    The idea behind this post is to get people to think about change in their own personal life and in their churches. First order change is really no change at all, other than cosmetic.

  5. Jesus said to seek first the kingdom of God and all these things (daily needs that the world chases after) will be taken care of. I have seen for myself that when a congregation seeks the kingdom as a single unit, all of their spiritual needs get met.

    First, one must understand "kingdom". Second, one must understand "seek". And lastly, one must do something with the understanding when received!

    For instance, let's say a church that decides the kingdom means a spiritual country that is desinged to take ground. How do they decide to seek this particular kingdom? Through being in agreement with the mission: to take gorund by winning their neighborhoods for Christ. They decide to do this through small home church meetings every week. Within the small groups, God provides the tools necessary for any front-line church to take ground: prophecy, healing, study, discussion, and needs being met.

    By seeking the kingdom, you recieve what you need to find it. Change is no longer an issue but a lifestyle. Therefore, a church should be about equiping its members to seek whichever part of the kingdom they have been given to work.

  6. Brad,
    Awesome comment. A third order change for most churches would be to seek the kingdom and allow God to show them the way. God equips us to do the work and leads us to where he wants us to be AFTER we make the commitment to follow Him. Thanks for dropping by...

  7. I like what Brad said there....actually the small groups are a central focus of our church....I like the balance it gives to a church.

    Dusty Chris (I think I will just call you Dusty (;-) )---you mentioned change with the demands of a lost and dying world...I think some things don't change. The need for love is a need that never changes. The need to know the living God.

    But an area of change that needs to be addressed is how people think about the world, truth, etc. We need to understand the ways our society thinks. This is necessary for better communication of the gospel and the love of God. Therefore I think some change is necessary----how will we know how to communicate if we don't understand their concepts? Some pastors and people will therefore read popular books, go to movies,listen to the popular music, art, etc in order to be effective in communicating the gospel to this generation. Paul did this on Mars Hill.

    I do not think the way a service is done is necessarily a problem as long as the Spirit of God is present in power. I think this explains why all kinds of different services can attract all ages--what people need is God's presence. When He is present, and when the people are full of His love and excited about God there will be an impact inside and outside of the church.