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But We've Always Done it That Way


February 17, 2020

Do you ever get bored with the way your living room furniture is set up? I do. Maybe you like switching small things or maybe you are the type of person that wants to completely upend the whole room!  How about your nightly dinner menus? Do you like the same foods over and over again, or do you prefer trying new recipes?
Even if you aren’t the kind of person who wants to frequently rearrange furniture or revise your weekly meal plan, I think we can all benefit from shaking up the routine.  The same old thing can get repetitive. A new perspective awakens your senses and taste buds alike.  It’s healthy to make a fresh start. 

If change is good, then why is it so hard?

As a worship leader who likes to switch things up, I often hear, “But we’ve always done it that way.”  (If I had a dollar for every time I heard that phrase!) The ironic thing is to keep doing some of the things we have always done, we must change many of the things we have always done! 

I’ve been reflecting on change within the confines of church more than usual lately.  The reasons why? Number one, change is inevitable.  With everything our denomination has been going through this last year, there is no escaping it. Number two? My home church is beginning MKI. 

Multiplying Kingdom Impact (MKI) is a process where churches receive coaching and training to multiply disciples by shifting focus outward to the community and beyond.  It supports our Missouri Conference initiative of creating New Places for New People and challenges existing congregations to transform their thinking. (For more information visit the Missouri Conference MKI webpage at www.moumethodist.org/mki.) 
My church is in the very beginning stages of this process, where we pray daily that God will change what we cannot change ourselves. Where we pray daily for God to open our hearts and minds to new ideas.  Where we pray daily for God to lead us to make disciples for Jesus Christ; and for those disciples to make disciples.  Where we pray daily for the opportunity to be a beacon of hope for those who don’t know the love of Jesus. 
One of our MKI coaches said something recently to our Leadership Team that really struck me.  His comment has become my personal mantra as our church dives into this work of MKI; my focus moving forward.  He asked our group, “What are the things your church can let go of in order to make room for growth and better things to come?”  The response was immediate--scared looks on faces of those contemplating giving up the old ways; nervous grumblings around table with various versions of, “But we’ve always done it that way!”
 
This idea of “out with the old to make room for the new” is vital to make a lasting change within my church. Maybe within your church, too; and maybe within your life, as well. 

So I challenge you to reflect on this as we prepare for the upcoming Lenten Season:  What are the things you need to let go of in order to grow? And for your church? As much as we love our comfort zones, they can hold us back from being our best. 

So, get uncomfortable!  Don’t run from change!  Create space for something new and exciting!  And if you get scared, know that you are on the right path!  The things we fear are often the things that will help us grow the most.  And pray this daily prayer, “God, help us change the things that we cannot change ourselves.  Amen.”   
 
 
 
 
Amber Hirsch is the Lay Leader for the Gateway Central District.  She is the Director of Worship Arts & Communications for St. Mark’s UMC in Florissant.  She is a life-long United Methodist, a proud P.K. (Preacher’s Kid), and a graduate of Central Methodist University.