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Change Can Bring Growth

by UNC Contributor
Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash
 

How ambivalent we humans are about change! We love being settled and permanent and having a set way of doing things. Yet we also get bored quickly and like variety. For example, we get tired of the same clothes; are prone to change our minds; often change the subject and even change our tune when it suits. And most of us would be bored with gourmet food every day. God designed His sons and daughters for a life of change. Some of it we enjoy, some we regret. But change is inevitable and can lead to personal growth.

Change happens every day

The first day at school can be a tearful experience. Becoming a teen involves a flood of biological changes, and attending high school for the first time can be very disorienting. The first day at a new job can be disconcerting and moving to a new suburb confusing. When children leave home, parents are faced with the “empty-nest syndrome.”When singles marry they enter a new phase of life; when they have children yet another begins. After the death of a mate, the survivor faces an enormous adjustment.

When Church life changes

The Christians in Jerusalem were settled in the years following Pentecost 31 AD. Then a fierce persecution forced many to leave their homes and livelihood. Only centuries later can we clearly see the positive outcome of this dispersion. As a result of Christians leaving Jerusalem, the gospel was preached throughout the ancient world (Acts 8). But for the Jerusalem Christians, the upheaval must have been very upsetting.

When my wife and I were first sent to New Zealand, we began with one small Bible Study. That number soon doubled to become a Church. Within two years, more congregations were established as well as an office with 12 staff. We had to trust God to provide each step along the way as the Church grew. That experience was similarly repeated in May, 1995, when we found ourselves unemployed, without a fellowship and having to trust God’s deliverance all over again. We’ve come a long way since that Sabbath of May 27, 1995, which was the occasion of the first United Church of God Bible Study in Australia.

Remember your first UCG Feast of Tabernacles

Back in 1995, newly re-gathered UCG members began asking me about the coming Feast. So I investigated the Noosa, Queensland area as a possible Feast site. When I approached the community centre staff, the man in charge was amazed at what had happened to us as a Church. The hall was available for the time we needed it, and from that initial contact we have enjoyed a remarkable relationship with the Community Hall for seven Feasts. For us today, the Feast of Tabernacles annually reinforces that by our calling we saints are temporary sojourners often subject to change as we await a Heavenly Kingdom.

Aquila and Priscilla were positive about change

Aquila was born on the southern coast of the Black Sea (Pontus), but by Acts 18 he and his wife Priscilla were leatherworkers (tentmakers) in Rome. We assume they were happy and content with a settled business life. Then one day in 49 AD, Claudius the Roman Caesar issued a decree expelling all Jews from Rome. Overnight community, friends, job and school all changed. It must have been a sudden forced learning experience to relocate and adjust to new geography, foods, people, language and customs. Despite relocation we find them active with the Apostle Paul. Acts 18 shows them in Corinth, Syria, and then Ephesus. Later they may have returned to Rome as Paul refers to them in Romans 16:3.

Sojourning is much the life of a church pastor and his family

Some members are happy for their pastors to move. Others want them to stay forever. And they themselves are often caught in between. Church administrative history has had a policy of pastor relocation when needed. The reasons are varied:

  • Learning Styles: We humans are unique individuals and learn in different ways. Some learn “hands on” with interactive participation and practical examples. Others learn by logic, reasoning, factual evidence, visual aids, abstract or philosophical reasoning. A pastor can usually only relate his teaching to how he himself learns. This satisfies those who identify well with his preferred methods while other styles are needed to help others.
  • Personal Change of Environment: Church pastors are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They live the life of their congregations. They can never truly get away. For the ministry a change of scenery by vacation or transfer can be revitalizing.
  • Skills and Talents: All of us are unique and a pastor’s strengths can initially be seen as valuable and refreshing in a new pastorate. As time goes by, familiarity can dim appreciation for those gifts. All must work together to make the best use of the strengths available so a congregation keeps challenged and striving for greater levels of spiritual change.

 

How to help your Pastor

Regularly welcome him and his wife and don’t wait for them to approach you each Sabbath. Take personal initiative and go to them. Or call the pastor or his wife and ask how they are doing. Make an effort to personally show you are friendly. Discover and appreciate their God-given strengths and talents. Strive to see how they can help your spiritual life. After all, God has placed them there for your spiritual benefit (Ephesians 4:11-14). Make their presence in your Church life a positive growth experience for yourself. Go to bat for your Pastor, link hands with him, uphold him against unwarranted criticisms and “guard him” as the workers did for each other in building the Temple wall with Nehemiah. We too have a work to do and need to ‘guard each other’ from unwarranted attacks that would weaken our resolve or distract us from our task (Nehemiah 4:13-23).

Change isn’t Comfortable

I’m now challenged by learning French and daily coming to see the extent of the task it is. Although Lynn and I have served in four different countries and lived in 28 homes, calling Canada home and driving on the right side of the road doesn’t all happen overnight. Yet we know by experience the ultimate outcome of each dislocating move has been a rewarding experience. Although relocating from one country to another has inevitable upheavals and often losses, we know God will provide as He has always done.

Confronting change and being positive about it brings further personal growth. We are guaranteed through Divine knowledge that everything God allows, through all stages of our lives, will work out in the end (Romans 8:28).

There are always new horizons, new possibilities, and new breakthroughs that God has in store for us all! By embracing changes positively you’ll richly discover some of them!

Gods Church
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