by: Rev. Laura Robinson
UCC Local Church Pastor & Convergence Team Member
I spent time last week listening to the conversations that arose out of the “Can the Church Change?” Summit. That big question is an interesting one. Because as most of the speakers noted, it’s a paradox. Everything changes. Change is evitable. The church has changed, is changing, and will change.
As Octavia Butler famously writes in The Parable of the Sower, “All that you touch you change. All that you change changes you. The only lasting truth is change. God is change.” We have changed from 15 years ago; from last year; even from last week. And we’ll continue to change. The world around us is changing, evolving, and always in movement. So, when we ask if the church can change, what we’re really asking is can we be changed for the better? One of the most prolific speakers of simple-yet-clarifying-truths, Brian McLaren, said, “Even the act of resisting change, changes us.” The question is not whether we will change. The question is whether we will be active agents in our change or allow fear, grief, discomfort, and a million other outside forces to shape our change for us.
It isn’t easy to actively choose change. However, the alternative is allowing everything else in the world to choose what it’s going to look like for you. In addition to seeking change in our churches, we must also look to our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our social safety nets. What does change look like in our jobs and our economic structures? In our homes and in the grocery stores?
How are we changing? Are we allowing someone else’s vision of the world to change us? Whose imagination is running the show? Is it one we want to give power to? Almost every speaker during the “Can the Church Change?” Summit last week urged us, as the church and as people of faith, to dig deep. To trust ourselves. To trust the movement of the Spirit. To rest and move intentionally. To find spaces that allow us to hear ourselves and just possibly, hopefully, the voice of God too.
Without even meaning to, we give a lot of time and space to the imaginations of others. Tech giants, politicians, bosses, parents, church trustees… but are we giving space to our own inner knowledge? Are we giving dreams of the Spirit our time? Are we spending energy listening to the visions of the plants, the animals, and the people who are choosing to live differently?
Are we giving our imaginations, our spirits, and our very selves the rest needed in order to be creative? To imagine the change we actually most want to see? In the Christian world, we just celebrated Pentecost. And once again, as many generations before us did, we’re wondering: can we change? Will the Spirit blow here?
The answer is easy: we already are changing. The Spirit IS here. How we respond, how we show up, how we listen, how we change is up to us. For more richness to chew on, consider purchasing lifetime access to the Can the Church Change? Summit – or check out the many resources Convergence has to help you and your community navigate change. Change IS coming and it could actually be a good thing.