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Ushering in change

Because of the first Easter, the behaviours of the followers of the one true God changed dramatically.

The gospel was thrown wide open to people of every nation. Eating habits began to differ. Long standing practices such as circumcision and sacrifice were given flexibility. For a first century resident in Jerusalem it would have felt like the entire religious structure was rendered apart, not just the temple curtain on Good Friday. That’s what change often does.

So why is it that, when our religious behaviours/structures change, the Christians in the walls of our churches get nervous? Shouldn’t we be used to it by now?

Truth be told, when I peer over the landscape of local churches across Canada, I see an all too common practice. Churches pray for, dream, and plan for change in the name of Godly, Holy Spirit-infused progress. Reports are written and plans made. They are presented to councils and given time at congregational meetings. By all accounts, it seems like the Spirit has been at work.

And then, the change that God had been ushering in somehow is quieted. Things return to “normal,” and the idea is shelved.

It’s why I believe that one of the best things any leader in a church can do is simply find the historical reports that have lain on a shelf and gotten dusty, and then ask the question, “Why are we not doing this?” Secondly, leaders must then press into the change in a similar way to Hilkiah finding the Book of the Law in 2 Kings 22.

The first part of this, discovery, happens ALL the time. But the second part, dealing with actual change, happens only sometimes. Let me encourage your church to begin a process of discovery and evaluation of those things if you have not done so recently. This process happens at the denominational scale too. I don’t have space in this column to express the numerous things that have been dreamt of, planned for, written down, prayed over, hoped for, but have been left undone for one reason or another.

I do, however, want to communicate that sometimes the dream does become a reality. In Canada, we are hiring someone to lean in to anti racism and champion diversity within the CRCNA.

Over 25 years ago, the Canadian Council of Christian Reformed Churches (an entity that no longer exists) felt led to hire a full time person to work on Racial Diversity. Due to denominational changes and structural adjustments over the years, this idea was shelved, forgotten, misplaced and unexecuted. Just one Godly idea among many that we now have the opportunity to lean into. Its time is still right!

We have extended an offer of employment to a senior leader for anti racism and it was accepted. We look forward to this new role beginning in June. It has meant that we have had to adjust other costs/programs. But we’ll do it. First, because it’s important in this era of our broader culture, and second, because we believe God told us to, in a Hezekiah sort of way.

The gospel remains. The good news of Jesus Christ through a Reformed lens is still our central thrust. But how we need to change to best execute His plan demands a flexible spirit within us. Maybe the late David Bowie said it right when he sang the song you still hear at Major League baseball parks: “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes . . . Turn and face the strange Ch-ch-changes.”

  • Darren is the Canadian Ministries Director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

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