I was talking with a friend last week from out of town who told me they had just started attending their 5th church in 15 years. I thought more about this after our conversation and concluded that North Americans are just too consumer-driven when it comes to “finding a good church.” That is, until I thought through each transition of my friends.
In each instance, these dear folks were part of a church where the leadership began to change their ministry “style” or “philosophy” while they were there. In other words, the church itself changed – either doctrinally or methodologically. The church they committed to was not the same church they felt constrained to leave.
Now, without going into all the details, suffice it to say that the changes that took place in each case were substantial. You won’t get any argument from me against sempre refomata! But, always reforming is not the same thing as flip-flopping or trading in your sermon for a drama and a song.
My own view (for what it’s worth) is that churches whose leaders feel compelled to re-invent themselves every few years will never grow deep in spiritual matters – unless that change is toward instrumental prayer, expositional preaching, genuine worship, vibrant community, personal evangelism and Spirit-empowered obedience to the commands of Christ.
I pity folks who spend their entire Christian life having to learn the next “key” or “secret” every 5-8 years! These trends have grown almost predictable. In my day it has gone Gotthard, to Crabb, to PromiseKeepers, to Openess, and now Emergent. Each one building on the other in the sense of looking for some elusive sense of meaning – apart from instrumental prayer, expositional preaching, genuine worship, vibrant community personal evangelism and Spirit-empowered obedience to the commands of Christ.
We need men who will be content to lead by faithfully doing the essential tasks of a pastor as outlined in the Scriptures. There may not be much publicity or book contracts with that approach – nor stubble and straw to kindle the fire in the day of judgment.