We are creatures of habit.
There is no doubt about that. We like things that are familiar, comfortable, in the same places as always, and in done in the same way we have always done them. In short, we like the Status Quo. We want to maintain things the way “they have always been”. But the fact of the matter is if you leave thing alone, you actually leave it to a torrent of change. Let me give you an example.
In my old neighborhood a house across the street had a white picket fence. The front gate hung between two large, ornate fence posts with a trellis that arched from post to post. When the fence was put up, my mother (who never seemed to envy the possessions of others) remarked how beautiful it was and how she would love to have such a pretty fence with those beautiful posts. The fence was painted vivid white and was a landmark of sorts in our neighborhood.
The lady who lived in that house had been a resident there for many years. The fence and its beautiful entrance brought her place just to the way she had always wanted it to be. She was very satisfied.
She was getting up in years, now, and was unable to do a lot of maintenance around the place. Time began to take its toll on her home, and upon the beautiful white fence. It maintained its luster for a while, but eventually, under the rain, wind, snow, freezing winter weather and the torrid days of Summer, the fence and its beautiful posts began to lose their luster. It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually the white fence posts and trellis, began to turn gray, and darker each succeeding year.
The fact is, if you leave a white post alone, it will eventually become a black post.
Dr. Chuck Kelley once put it like this. “If you particularly want it to be white, you must always be painting it again. The fact is, if you really love the OLD white post, you must always be preparing a NEW white post.”
Isn’t that the way it is with our church?
We like the Status Quo. We enjoy the comfort zone. But nothing ever stays the same. Nothing, that is EXCEPT the message of the Gospel. The methods we use to share that never changing message, however, must always be evaluated, tweaked, and updated or else we become stagnant, and weather, and darken, and eventually will rot.
Westmoreland Baptist Church has a wonderful history dating back over a century. There have been some glorious times, and times of difficulty. Things have changed a lot since this little mission was begun on this corner in 1915. When the church was in its “heyday” in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s it was hard to see it coming, but change was going on all around us. The community was changing. Jobs were changing. The economy was changing. Culture was changing. In the midst of it all there were churches like ours, and ours, itself, that wanted to cling to the status quo. If we’re not careful, traditions sometimes become more important than mission. Opinions and preferences become more important than ministry. And in the midst of the comfort of “sameness” the fence posts go unpainted and we lose our luster for the Lord.
It is time for us to look past personal preferences and likes and dislikes, to get a clear view of the purpose and mission of our church. I’m not talking about making wholesale changes in how we do things. I’m not referring to change just for the sake of change. Our history hasn't changed. Our identity doesn't change. Our Mission doesn't change. And most certainly our message never changes. However, we must find the most effective ways to share our unchanging message with the changing culture around us, and be willing to keep repainting the fence posts as necessary - until Jesus comes again!
Let us look to the Lord. Let us look ahead and not behind. Let us evaluate our ministries and programs in light of our threefold mission (Magnify God. Minister To People. Make Disciples) and be willing to repaint the post where needed. If we open our eyes and our hearts, the Lord will help us.
As we seek to serve the Lord in this Post Christian Culture and Age, let us seek new ways to serve Him, and let us not be guilty of repeating the 7 last words of a dying church, “We never did it that way before!”