Most of us have heard or said the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It means that if something seems to be working, then we shouldn’t mess with it or change it. While that philosophy works well in mechanics, it fails miserably if applied to organizations. Organizations must be changing constantly, not for the sake of change, but for the sake of survival.
Everything that is organized has a life cycle. Everything, our bodies, our ecosystems, our corporations, and our churches, experience birth, growth, plateau, and decline. Everything is always changing whether we want it to or not. The challenge is to stay ahead of the change, being proactive to it rather than reactive to it.
If a church waits until it has begun to plateau or decline to make necessary changes, it more often than not lacks the resources and momentum to make the those changes. The church should be making changes and thinking about new ways to reach its community for Christ in its growth stage while it has the resources to do so. The problem is that people are most resistant to change when things are going well. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The rational is that a particular methodology has worked well in the past, therefore, it will work well in the future.
Some will ask, “Does methodology really matter? Is God really interested in our methods?” I believe that methods do matter because God not only entrusts us with the message of the gospel, but He also instructs us on how it is to be delivered. When Israel left Egypt, they were resistant to the change. They convinced themselves at every turn that Moses was leading them into the wilderness to die. In Exodus 17, the people complained that they were thirsty. God told Moses to strike the rock and it would produce water for the people. Moses followed God’s instructions and gave the people what they needed.
Later, during the desert wanderings, the people complained again. In Numbers 20, God told Moses to speak to the rock and it would produce water for them to drink. Moses, however, struck the rock. He was supposed to accomplish the same ends by a different means, but he stayed with what was comfortable, what he knew had worked in the past and in doing so, he lost the opportunity to lead the people into the Promised Land. The rock produced water for the people to drink, but Moses’ pride and lack of faith cost him dearly.
We need to be asking God what He wants us to do, but as importantly, we need to be asking God how He wants us to do it. I believe God calls us to new ways of doing things to keep us from relying on ourselves and living in the past. Moses learned his lesson about methods the hard way. Let’s hope that we learn our lesson from Moses.