Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Slowly Wading VS Diving Right In

While I was at church this Sunday I started thinking about the ways people approach change. I liken it to swimming. When I was a kid I used to just dive right in, but when I became a teenager I switched to slowly wading in. Now, as a full grown man I do both: sometimes I dive in and sometimes I slowly wade in. Getting into a pool or lake is the courageous act of changing one's environment . . . and the metaphor works for change in general.

Our church got a new pastor this summer. Pastor Kelly is very charismatic and creative. When he came in he changed a lot of things and quickly! Quick change can produce tension and anxiety and I admit I felt some of these feelings myself. I talked to several people who also felt this way and we had a few families actually leave the church. For a few Sundays it was kind of depressing to look out in the sanctuary and see fewer people. But many of the changes that our new pastor introduced were not just different, but good changes and the new approach while repelling a few has attracted many more. This Sunday we were packed and there was positive energy which was invigorating. The quick change had borne good results.

Rapid change is exciting but carries it with a higher element of risk and a higher element of reward. Sometimes it seems the best way to do things. On the other hand, slow change can also be good - introducing change by slowing wading in to a new experience of things. Neither is more right (or wrong). All I know for sure is that embracing change is essential to growth. One way or another we need to get off the beach and into the water. Some people say "I fear change" but not changing is an illusion - we and our environment are always changing whether you want it to or not.

Most likely you either like quick changes or slow ones. The danger is when you try to universalize your experience - demand or expect that those around you should change the way you do. I sometimes do this with my kids; "Just jump in!" I say and get impatient as I wait for them out in the water. The loving thing to do is simply this; encourage people to change and allow them do it at their own pace, even if their pace is different from yours. Trust me, your relationship will be alot better if you don't impose your own change style upon them.


Jobina said...

I've never been much of a jumper, I more of a wade-er. I found I was the same way with change in our church too. I'm getting into it though now...I do like that our services are casual and welcoming and not quite so coreagraphed (sp?). Pastor Kelly has really injected a good shot of warmth into our church!

Elayne said...

How nice to hear that there are good changes happening. It's always a little frightening to have a new pastor "break in" :)

I do both. Jump and the big toe dip!