Two men sat on a park bench, eating lunch and talking about their church experience. With an expression of consternation, one said to the other, "My congregation is becoming more Christ-like… the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Leadership Journal, Fall 2008, p. 82)
Some of you will read that and immediately think, "What is he complaining about? The church should be just like it was yesterday and should stay like it is into the future!" Others of you will read it and think, "I understand that frustration. The only thing my church has changed in twenty years is the number of people who come. We've been in decline for ten years!"
So, should the church change?
And Definitely yes!
When the Hebrew writer said that Jesus was the same yesterday, today and forever he was warning the readers to guard against departing from the new, better covenant. Those who had taught them had led godly lives following Jesus. If they followed the same way, they would live godly lives, too. The consistency of Jesus confirms that truth. "Stick with what you've learned from those who taught you," the writer contends! Grace is much more beneficial than ceremonial foods!
Few people actually believe though that the church should not change in any way. I say "few." I don't know of any, but I don't know everybody.
We meet in buildings with padded pews. We sing songs from books or screens. We evangelize via Facebook, blogs, or church websites. We print material, we purchase advertisements, we have bank accounts (perhaps blank accounts right now), we own property and pave parking lots, we drink our fruit of the vine from tiny plastic cups, and we stare at the back of the head of the person in front of us during the communion. We baptize people in chlorinated water circulated through filters. We have Bible Classes and Children's Bible Hour. We wear suits on Sunday mornings (at least the real Christian men do) and jeans on Sunday night. The readers of Hebrews didn't do any of that. The list could go on and on.
Change? No way! I'll take God's grace over my filthy rags!
Change? Yes! How can we become all things to all people so that we can save some?