We talk constantly about change and the need to change. What we forget to often talk about is that in order to change there will be loss. We will grieve what is no longer. We’ll miss the way things used to be, and while we might logically understand why things have changed, it still hurts.
This is true of any change, in our personal lives and in the life of the church. That’s why I like the word sacrifice when it comes to change. It’s an intentional decision we make to give something up in order to have something better, to be better.
A sacrifice is something we know we have laid to rest in order to honor our Creator. There are of course things we’re not willing to sacrifice in the church: scriptural teachings being forefront and center in that.
But there are a lot of things the church believes and does that aren’t clearly based on the teaching of the Bible and are far more tradition or preference. These can include the order of the worship service, the music we have during service, to the structure of the church organization itself. Those are the things we have to sometimes lose in order to reach out to others, in order to bring another person closer to God.
These traditions are hard to lose. It pains us not to have them around any more, not to say the words as our parents said them, not to go through the same motions that generations before us have. That’s our loss.
But from our loss can come great things. From our loss and our grieving can come life and joy. We can find hope and passion in new ways, experience it through others, recognize the diversity in our faith and in our culture as a family of God.
Kevin G. Harney writes in his book Organic Outreach for Churches, “Any church that takes outreach seriously will quickly learn that sacrifice is essential. Just as Jesus left the glory of heaven, emptied himself, and was willing to suffer to bring grace to this lost and broken world, we also must sacrifice and suffer to share his good news with others.”
Any person who has truly made a change in their lives knows that change came at a cost, at a price. That’s the loss. And there is a grieving process to go through, but we always have to remain hopeful of the future even as we are in the depths of our despair of the sacrifices we’ve made.