Most people don’t like change; perhaps it is a human trait that has some connection to a protective element deep in our psyche. But one of the only certainties in life ironically is change! It happens all around us and it happens even if we ignore it or chose to avoid it. I recently attended a training session where the speaker discussed the difference between mission and model in relation to churches and change. We often mix the two up, and when we do churches can get stuck in a time warp and yet somehow still feel they are being faithful to the great commission.
Mission is the heart of the church, its DNA if you like, and this should always remain the same no matter what part of the world we live in or what century or decade we belong to. That is to live as followers of Jesus and be obedient to all he taught us to do and to live by the values and actions of the Kingdom of God. To love God with all our hearts, to love our neighbours, to seek justice, to care for the poor, to be a community that reflects the love of Jesus in the way we worship and serve each other and those around us. I could go on but I think you get the picture!
The model on the other had is how we do the mission at any particular point in time, but this has, will, and should change as the world and culture changes around us. Before you get your hackles up let me explain. For example, I now often read my Bible on my smart phone in church rather than carrying a big heavy leather Bible. We use the web and social media to communicate in very different ways than we did 10 or 20 years ago. The world is much more global and connected which affects our identity and connection. We sing songs that are different and play different instruments than we did in the early 20th century. Youth ministry and kids church looks very different compared to a few years ago, and all of these things are ok. In fact, the model has to change or the church suffers and gets out of touch with the people it is trying to reach. But the mission and core DNA of the church never changes and always remains counter cultural throughout all ages. However, if we get mission and model confused and think that our current “model” of church is the mission and DNA of the church, then we run into real problems.
In this season of change at Parkside let us hold firmly to our mission, to our core DNA, to the values that are central to being a Jesus centred community. But may we also embrace change and new ways and expressions of faith that breathe life into us and create space for people who join our community to help us to form a new model that might be a bit different to what we have done in the past. I am expectant about what God has in store for us moving forward!
Grace and Peace – Garry