Monthly Archives: September 2014

An amazing article by Joe McKeever

What to do when your church changes
Posted on September 15, 2014 by Joe
These days in my retirement ministry, most of the churches where I’m invited to preach have these things in common….

–Almost no man wears a necktie or suit.

–On the platform you find all kinds of musical instruments.

–Huge screens are mounted on the front walls, where the words of songs and scripture are projected.

–Many people in the congregation read Scripture from their phones.

–Worship leaders are often wearing jeans and sneakers.

–In the announcements, you hear of mission trips to foreign countries, regardless of the size of the church.

–Fewer and fewer hymns are being sung, and when the old ones are brought out, they’re given new treatments. Mostly, though, what’s being sung in worship was written in the past 10 or 12 years.

–Churches announce on their outside signs “blended” services, “contemporary” services, and/or “traditional” services.

The times, they are a-changing, friend. (And they are not through changing either. So you youngsters should not get too attached to the present innovations.)

If you cannot adapt, you may find yourself living in the 1950s.

The other weekend I worshiped with an interesting church in Jacksonville, Florida. I have not known that church previously, but had learned a little of their story before arriving.

As the neighborhood changed around them, most of their members had moved away. Since the church failed to make the necessary adjustments to reach new residents of their community, it was slowly dying. So, not long ago, the remaining membership–mostly senior adults–asked a larger (and healthy, thriving) church in the area to take them over. They would be willing to make whatever changes were necessary to turn this around.

That takes great courage, let me say.

Most “older” churches cannot do this. The members are so wed to the ways of yesterday and the methods of the past that they prefer to let the church die rather than change.

Six months after they called a young pastor from New Orleans to shepherd this transitioning congregation, I showed up for three days of ministry. As always, before and after preaching, I sat at a table drawing people. I was pleasantly surprised by the large number of children and teens and young families throughout the buildings. Already, the church is flourishing.

The longtime members of that little church are having to get used to a lot of change. The pastor does not wear a suit or tie or even a sport coat. Music is provided by a group composed of piano, several guitars, and a drum set. Four or five young adults were the praise ensemble.

It was a blessed service. The singing was great, the people were happy and friendly, and the fellowship was sweet. They’re getting this right.

Being with such a happy group of God’s people was such a joy.

What would happen, I wondered, if a member who moved back to town after a year’s absence walked into the service. A large screen flashes the words to hymns and choruses. The platform is covered by musical instruments, and an air of informality pervades.

Whoever heard of a church changing? (Smiley-face here)

Churches are always changing. Only the dead ones don’t.

May I repeat that? Churches are always changing–if they are alive. I guarantee you that Saddleback Church (Rick Warren) in Orange County is always tweaking what they do. As does North Point (Andy Stanley) in Alpharetta, and Celebration Church (Dennis Watson) in Metairie.

But we see this same scenario playing out again and again.

You’ve belonged to that church for many years. You were attracted to it because of location and ministry, because you liked the pastor and the people were friendly. You have served the Lord there in numerous capacities and your children grew up there. You have a history with that church. And now….

Now, it’s not the same church.

There’s a new pastor and new leadership. They are attracting a different group of people from the lovely group that drew you in. You feel less and less a part of things. You’re not at home with many of the innovations they’re doing now.

What should you do?

1) Recognize that churches are always in a state of change if they are alive.

Everytime someone joins your church or leaves it, the church changes. Everytime a member begins to get serious about reading the Word or witnessing or tithing or ministering, or when they backslide, the church changes. It is never static, never a frozen entity.

2) You yourself are growing and changing if you are alive and obedient. I grew up on a certain kind of church music, then grew past that. Later, my tastes changed and to no one’s surprise, have changed again.

3) Your needs and requirements change.

My tastes change. It’s called “life.” After radiation treatment of the head and neck a full decade ago, many things no longer have a taste at all, while others are as wonderful as ever. I can handle spicy food better than before since I have fewer functioning taste buds. Life is like that.

4) Perhaps you are dragging your feet and resisting something new the Holy Spirit is trying to do in your life.

You are if you insist that the Lord do something again in the same way He did it before. You are dragging your feet and resisting Him if you reject the new things He sends because they are outside your comfort zone. Do you suppose Jonah felt comfortable going to Nineveh? Don’t you know it was way, way outside his comfort zone?

5) Perhaps the Lord has something new for you in the community and you should be in another church. This may be His way of cutting you loose from those ties that have bound you so you can move forward.

6) Are you open to new things? New ways?

If you are not, you’re going to have trouble with the Lord Jesus.

“Behold,” the Lord said, “I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). He wasn’t just talking about Heaven, friend.

He’s making me ever-new right now. Yep, I said that. Psalm 92:12-15 promises that. “The righteous will flourish…. They will still bear fruit in old age. They will be full of sap and very green….”

So, what do you do when your church changes? Grow with it.


The Cancer of Christ’s Body


To Those Who Call Christ Lord,

I remember sitting in Dr. Joe Richardson’s office with my Mom and Dad. When he walked in you could tell by the expression on his face the news wasn’t going to be very good. In fact it was much much worse than we had expected…cancer…in Dad’s bladder, liver, lungs, and spine. Spreading so far and wide within his body that there was very little they could do, and that was the case…diagnosed on December 14th 2003 and Dad died on March 2nd 2004…it took just a little over two months for this cancer to totally destroy my Dad’s earthly body. The wonderful news for my Father, Mother and their entire family was the eternal hope that my Dad had through his relationship with Christ Jesus. Begun as a child, forged in the black forest of Germany as he lost a leg in the battle of the bulge…and lived out as he loved and cared for his wife and family for the next 60 years. But the cancer was horrible…it took his health and strength away completely…and then it took his earthly life.

I think of my Dad’s cancer every time I hear someone begin a sentence…”I’ve had some people say to me.” or “So and So is telling everyone that one of the staff made her unhappy.” When Jesus says, “That a little bit of yeast affects the entire batch of dough.” I wonder if beyond legalism if he was thinking about our conversations…or our treatment of others with our words. A little bit of cancer left untreated…or left to run amuck within the body will certainly kill the body…and before that death…the body will be extremely sick. What really is Gossip? I like this definition…”It’s hurtful or private information that is used for entertainment, or to make the one who shares it feel powerful because of secret knowledge.” Have you ever discovered that when you’re talking to someone in a group and you mention that someone is in the hospital or been through surgery there is always someone who wants to share more of the details…or other information that isn’t widely known? Why? Because it makes us feel good..more important to have “secret knowledge,” information that the average Joe doesn’t have. We’re in the “Know.” We’re part of the “elite.” But gossip and slander aren’t the same things. Slander is degrading another individual. Like “Did you know I saw Rick headed into the liquor store the other day!” “I saw Brad having lunch with someone who wasn’t his wife…wonder what THAT’S all about?” But gossip and slander aren’t even the same as having a critical heart. A critical heart begins to look for the bad, even secretly enjoying the bad (for the “secret knowledge” reason). The scary part of all these is that they flow from our heart. The Hebrew word for heart is “leb” and it means “the seat of the intellect.” It is comprised of more than just our feelings…it’s made up of our thoughts, our attitudes, our feelings…The “Leb” is the very core of who we are….and what happens if the very seat of who we are begins to enjoy the “secret” knowledge of gossip, slander or criticisms?

Jesus said: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit…thus by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:15, 16, 17, 20)

It’s important we realize that Jesus is speaking to people who disguise themselves in the clothing of religion…but the relationships and fruit that is produced is anything but healthy…it’s a cancer!!!!! And dealing with it can be anything but fun…it’s ferocious…it will get you crucified if you speak the truth with boldness. What do I recommend? Speak the truth with boldness anyway…zealously guard the life of the body…whether the cancer gives a lot of money or has family connections, are is mean and vindictive.

The body of Christ is much like the human body…the apostle Paul says so anyway in many places. Jesus Christ is the head of this body, but even though the head can generate the truth, even speak that truth through His perfect, Holy Word…some body’s will listen and start working out their faith…and some will not listen and will die because of cancer…Just a couple of recommendations from the heart of a lead Minister…

1. Do not show favoritism because of money, position, or family connections. This doesn’t mean you will like everyone the same. But when it comes to important, eternal issue, treat everyone as valuable.

2. Speak the truth with grace. Jesus was equally filled with truth and grace. He perfectly discerned when to speak truth and when to speak grace. I’m not Jesus, and neither are you, but if you are His child “His Spirit” lives within you and will open your heart and mouth at just the right times to speak truth and grace.

3. If you are a leader, or a person of influence (either sex) when you have the opportunity to recognize a cancerous situation…address it. Choose the support of others over becoming a conduit that “unhealthy” people use to get their way.

4. If someone is “high maintenance” or has been a cancer within the body of Christ for a long long time…hope for change, but express to this individual “It’s time you grow up or shut up.”

5. Keep the right priorities…love lost people…love people who hurt, and expect Christ followers to constantly be growing in their faith

Cancer…it’s a horrible thing in the human body…and “spiritual” cancer is a horrible thing in the body of Christ…remember…“Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Do not greive the Holy Spirit of God with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:29, 30

Solomon said that…”There is life in our words and death in our words,” (proverbs 12:18) And every single one of us have experienced people that bring us life…and we’ve experienced those who bring death to our spirits. May we choose the words of the resurrection.

Loving the family of God,

Rick Burdette