Challenging the Future while Respecting the Past
By: Hona Amer
Change is hard for many people. It is easy to get used to life as usual. We drive down the same roads to get to work, sit in the same couple of rows at church, and we get ready every morning in a similar order.
Organizations encounter the struggle of change, as well. In a world where technology is evolving faster than we can keep up with it, organizations have to adapt to a new way of interacting with clients and customers. This must be done without forgoing the founders' core values on which the company was built. Churches and ministries also encounter this struggle.
In the Bible, people experienced change of their location, their name, and their status all in an effort to move toward God's blessing. In Genesis 12:1, 2 (ESV), it says, "The LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you into a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.'" Abram experienced a change of location and later a change of his name to Abraham in order to experience the blessing of God.
If the ultimate goal is to reach people, then it changes the way we view ministry and tradition. There is a tendency to hold on to programs, orders of service, and musical productions because of tradition. At times, it is appropriate to reevaluate their effectiveness to achieve the mission of reaching people with the love of Jesus. Creating a culture within your ministry that welcomes ideas, suggestions, and change can require a paradigm shift. We have to move from holding onto the past to respecting the traditions and values while translating them effectively to the next generations. Instead of wiping out the old and coming in with the new, an integrated approach can help bridge the gap between where the ministry has been to where it is going.
How can you give ministry leaders and volunteers permission to offer suggestions? Communicate with your team your desire to move forward in the most effective manner and tell them that you are open to ideas and suggestions. If the culture of your ministry has previously been unwelcoming to new ideas or challenging the old ways, then it will require encouragement on your part as a leader for your team to feel comfortable contributing.
If, as a church or organization, we are pouring money into things that are not producing the desired results, then we need to have the courage to ask tough questions. Would those resources be more effective in a different area of our ministry? If so, then challenging tradition doesn't have to be seen as a rebellious proposition but rather a way to impact more people.
BIO: Hona Amer is the author of the book, Smart Work U, helping students graduate from college early, debt-free at www.SmartWorkU.com. She also serves as the President of The H Group marketing company, an adjunct professor, and a lover of life. She holds an MBA and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. She blogs at www.liveoutlife.com.