August 21, 2008

The Challenges of Change

In the midst of some reflection this morning about the decline of the membership in the Church of the Brethren over the past 15 years (approximately 13-14%), I came across an article written this week by Bishop Mike Coyner of the United Methodist Church in Indiana. In this article he reports on reading a book by Richard C. Longworth, "Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism." (Available from

The book deals with the decline of the Midwest due to the inability to respond to the challenges of a global marketplace. Longworth says that the biggest problem facing the Midwest is not the rise of a global economy, it is our own attitude about that change. Our own risk-aversion is what keeps us from adapting, changing, creating, and moving forward.

And how does that relate to the church you may ask? It may well be that the biggest problem facing the church today is not the changes in our world, but our own attitudes about those changes. We are afraid to adapt our Christian principles, our modes of worship, and we become too locked into our comfort zones to develop creative mission and ministries to facing the changing needs of our communities. Some would prefer to see the church in decline rather than change the ways we minister to the community and the world around us.