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Pastor’s Note: Change in Community


In case you haven’t heard yet, there are a few changes at Southwood this fall. While much of why we are here and what we do is staying the same, we are making a couple of adjustments to our structure and schedule in an effort to foster biblical community on mission together. New adult Connect Communities begin September 9, and our worship service begins one hour earlier (9:30) starting that day as well. I’m really excited about what God will do in the days and years ahead – not because of our wisdom in planning but because of his grace in blessing his church.

At the same time, as I’ve confessed to many of you, I’ve found myself several times in the past few weeks making these upcoming changes about me. How will this impact me and my family? What will people think of me? How will this alter my routines (I live in ruts, so this is particularly painful!)? I’ve needed to repent to many people as a result of thinking and acting from this mindset. See, not only is it true that life is not all about me, but it’s particularly true in community that change is not all about me!

This reality is true not merely in a church but really in any group – a team, a family, a business – any community. When change comes, it impacts different members of the community differently. In almost every scenario where several hundred people are impacted, some will prefer the new plans while others prefer the old plans and many have no strong preference. Therefore, if I view the change through one single lens (my own), I will have a very limited perspective.

Each fall I seem to experience this with my family as we discuss schedules for small group, after-school activities, and so on. I will often look at the potential schedule through my own lens first and see potential problems (inconvenient eating times, inefficient driving patterns, etc.). However, if I step back to see my wife’s perspective, the impact on three girls, and the priorities our family is pursuing together, the problems I perceived for my own schedule become much less significant.

I’d encourage you to do that with these changes at your church, no matter how you personally feel about them. Perhaps you are excited as I am and have the opportunity to remember there will be those who have difficult adjustments to make and could use your help along the way. Listen to those who are struggling, really seek to enter into their lives and struggles, and consider sacrificing your comfort to help them engage in the community.

Perhaps, on the other hand, you’re facing some challenges you wouldn’t have picked and have the opportunity to consider others better than yourself, to make some sacrifices for the good of the community, or to lean on brothers and sisters in new ways. Regardless, let’s together consider communal change from a communal perspective and pray that God will work to build a stronger community for the glory of his name.

Finally, I’d encourage you to remember the core realities that are staying the same. We are still gathering around the unchanging Word of God. We’re just finishing up a few weeks of talking together about our Core Commitments that anchor us in our pursuit of our mission as a church. They’re not changing. Neither is the Savior for whom we exist and around whom we shape our lives: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. As we together focus on Jesus and feed on his Word, we will stay connected to each other and passionate about the mission He has given us no matter what else may change.