Yesterday I wrote about how even though we have seen God work in awesome ways this summer, that there are areas of "needs improvement" at New Hope that have to change, and practices we have grown accustomed to that need to end in order for us to accelerate our effectiveness and impact.
Of course that assumes the church realizes it's not about them.
One of the hardest, most challenging, and draining parts of a pastor's job is dealing with the member's reaction to changes. The temptation for some is always there to break out of the group over certain preferences in style. Dave Browning is a pastor, author, and visionary leader, and he wrote this week on preferences in style and change.
Citing Thomas Jefferson's quip "In matters of style, swim with the current, in matters of principle, stand like a rock." Browning goes on to write some of the best advice I have ever read concerning this. I have excerpted some, but you should read it all at Dave's blog.
I have found that many believers have a wrong notion about Christian unity. They confuse unity with uniformity. Christian unity is not uniformity. Uniformity is the natural man's way of seeking unity and involves:
(1) looking for little things he has in common with others, then
(2) finding differences between his group and others, and finally
(3) increasingly insisting that those who are with him be like him.
That is not Christian unity.
That is worldly uniformity.
And, frankly, anyone can do it, which is why everyone is doing it.
Christian unity is embracing diversity within the will of God (see 1 Corinthians 12). Did you catch the difference? Christian unity actually embraces diversity. Within God's will, there is grace for differences in personality and presentation.
Can you appreciate a sermon that is preached in a different style than you prefer? Can you worship with a song that isn't your favorite? Can you "talk up" a denomination that isn't yours? If not, you may need to take some of the grace that you have for sin, and apply some of it to style.
The number one request I get as pastor of New Hope isn't (sadly) "Can we do ministry to..." or even "Could I work with..." Instead it usually has to do with some part of worship we don't do enough or we do too much. Everything we do is prayed over and dedicated to the worship of Almighty God. And yet...
We can disagree on the things of style and still be brothers and sisters in Christ if we both acknowledge the power of the Holy Spirit working through and guiding us.