Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Stop Tinkering

I say this periodically, but I don't say it often enough. I am amazed at what I get to do. Last night I sat in a room with church leaders from 37 states, 11 countries on five continents. The people there represented a total church attendance of more than 450,000 people. Think of that: the things we are going to talk about this week at the Drive Conference will impact nearly half a million people.

And I work with the people who created this conference.

Granted, I didn't do much here. Mostly, I sat and quietly nodded while Reggie Joiner rubbed his face and asked, "Does that make sense?"

Here's the issue on the table: so many leaders have bought into the myth that if they tinker enough with their churches they will eventually create wholesale change. But it doesn't work like that. At some point in time, if a church is going to survive for the next generation, you are going to have to introduce radical changes.

Tinkering is for people who don't really have the courage to make the changes they know need to be made. Tinkering allows a leader to trick people into thinking things won't really go too far. Tinkering frustrates everyone. Tinkering says we're not really serious about this whole project. Tinkering is a way of maintaining status quo while still managing to be irritating at the same time.

For a generation I heard people say that there are two speeds at which you can change a church: slow and slower. That's dumb. That's foolish. That's irresponsible.

God doesn't seem to be interested in tinkering. He calls men and women in the Bible to introduce radical change. Abraham. Moses. Joshua. Samuel. Josiah. Jonah. Peter. Paul.

Come to think of it, the church calls people to radical change in the most fundamental way. We do not call people to tinker with their way of life; we call them to repentance -- to radical change. Why in the world would we ask people to do something we aren't willing to do ourselves?