Christian Issues:  Changes In The Church


Over the years churches change in some way if they are to survive.  They may make changes in worship, changes in leadership, changes in outlook toward the community or they may even change their stance on certain doctrines.  Sometimes changes are good, but sometimes they are not.  We do not want to get caught up in the attitude of making changes just for the sake of change.  Certainly, churches should not make changes in their doctrinal stance unless they find that the the Holy Bible shows them to be in error. 

The most common type of change over the last several years seems to be that of the way worship is conducted while the church is assembled together.  Many churches that sing old songs and maintain a sober and consistent but reverent practice of worship to God find many members asking to sing more contemporary songs and to feel at home expressing themselves joyfully to our God.  Far too often these changes in worship have not gone over well with many other members of the congregation.

Whatever the changes may be, they often are implemented quickly, although they may be discussed, debated and prayed about over a long period of time before the decision is made.  All too often, what I have seen is that these changes are implemented without warning to the congregation as a whole.  If anyone objects to the changes, whether on Scriptural grounds or just out of concern for tradition, they are not consulted or given an opportunity to present any Scriptural objections they may have before the changes are made.  Many times this leads to dissensions and factions within the congregation and eventually many go elsewhere or the church splits and a new church is started.  I am all for starting new churches, but not on the foundation of dissension.

There are certain Scriptural guidelines that I believe can prevent such calamities or at least make them much less likely.  Jesus said, "Do to others as you would have them do to you" (Luke 6:31).  In Romans 14 we find, "[15] If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. [16] Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil"  (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:7-13).  If our brethren are offended by some change we implement and we ignore their belief that it is a sinful change, we are not acting in love.  Surely, we would not want them to do something that might cause us to fall.

I do not propose that change be avoided because of some petty unscriptural objection such as, a personal preference for the way things are or because it is a tradition of men.  What I do propose is that when a change seems good to the leaders and is agreed upon, that they should go ahead and plan on implementing it.  However, before doing so let them submit the proposed changes to the congregation as a whole and ask the church if they have any Scriptural objections, which the leaders have not considered.  Often members who are opposed to certain changes do have some Scripture in mind that they believe opposes the changes.  More than likely, the Scripture in mind is being misapplied or just misunderstood.  However, by facing the objections head on with Scripture and the true application of it, the leaders can eliminate any appearance of a disregard for the truth of the Scriptures.  This will show a spirit of humility (James 4:10) and a love for the sanctity of Scripture (John 17:17).

John Hunt