Change Agents!  

Posted by Mark in , ,



Let me give you just a peak into my childhood.

The church I grew up in was pretty dang conservative. Without going into unnecessary ruminations over things long since gone, one particular concept in this church has sparked my interest as of late. It’s the two words that struck both anger and fear into the hearts of even the most staunch and legalistic.

“CHANGE AGENT”

Beware the accursed label for, much like a pirate’s “Black Spot”, once it has been given to you, you will wear it to your grave. Because the church brotherhood I grew up in believed that the church was perfect and fully “restored” to the pristine blueprint of the New Testament (is there only one model of church in the NT?), anyone who attempted to change the model or expression of how church was done or developed was labeled with attempting to derail the entire holy experiment. For this particular group, “be-holding the pattern” was of utmost importance, and anyone to varied from this pattern was heretical.

It is ironic how God brings people to terms with their own terms. Over the last few years, “change agent” has become a life goal of mine, and I pray regularly for “change agents” all over this continent. Not just the church needs changing either. I’m praying for change agents who change the world. For scores of people who, with eyes fixed on a completely different culture, subvert the culture they’re working undercover in.

I’m hoping to partner and network with as many change agents as I can in Chicago. I think the church is in deep need of change; maybe the supposed “pattern” of the New Testament is about change anyway! What I mean is - wasn’t Jesus a change agent? Weren’t his followers agents of transformation that eventually swept across an Empire stuck in its ways? Isn’t the Kingdom of God itself an agent of change?

Where would this world be today if more of us refused to sit back and let things rot as they are? Why is complacency revered? Why are whole systems built on the assumption that no one will have the gumption to do something about the wrongs they see? When will there be justice? When will there be creative life bubbling over into the church? Our schools? Our homes? Our government? We desperately need change agents to break the pre-conceived “blueprints” and perfect ideas of our world.

Change agents were chided and run out of town in my church growing up - but I say we kick out the squatters. This world is a changin’.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 12, 2009 at Thursday, March 12, 2009 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

3 comments

Bill Hybels often says that to be called an agent of change is the highest compliment you can receive.

That shows the difference in the two approaches. One says things can be better, the other says this is as good as it gets.

March 12, 2009 at 1:22 PM

Great choice of words! I'm hooked. I'm looking forward to where this goes.

I'm also struck by the line "...because the church brotherhood I grew up in believed that the church was perfect and fully 'restored' to the pristine blueprint of the New Testament". It reminds me of a book by Daniel Gilbert (Harvard Professor of Psychology):

http://www.randomhouse.com/kvpa/gilbert/author.html

His thesis is that human brains are not particularly successful at remembering accurately. I can't help but tie that to Walter Brueggemann's use of the term "amnesia", as he describes the mistakes of ancient Israel and modern day Christians. It seems that the primary reason the church has adopted an extremely conservative theology (and politics) is an unrealistic or lost memory of the past. Because they hold to an overly optimistic view of the past, a conservative plan seems like the right thing to do, and the idea of moving forward seems like moving further away from what used to be "perfect".

Because of that, I think I've always stayed away from the term "restoration". It sounds like we'd be buying into the conservative tendency to "look back" for answers rather than progressing forward. Maybe I'm wrong. I'd love to hear what you think we might want to restore.

March 12, 2009 at 1:28 PM

Great thoughts. I am reminded that Jesus' first sermon was "Change! The kingdom of God is near!"

I live and work in Ukraine and several years ago I was given a full dose of how the smugness of some sounds in the ears of outsiders. I was visiting with an Orthodox Priest and asked him if he knew anything about churches of Christ. He replied, "What do I need to know? You are a schism of a schism - there is no point in wasting my time to learn about you. Both Catholics and Protestants just need to come home to the true Orthodox faith."

Although I was listening to an Orthodox priest if I closed my eyes it could have been any number of people in our fellowship.

May change come quickly and with great humility...

March 12, 2009 at 4:51 PM

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