By Bob Simpson, BCM/D Associate Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer and Editor of BaptistLIFE
If there is one thing that remains constant, it’s change. Life is full of changes that must be navigated. Often they come in like waves of the sea. I have been through many, many of them in my life. Honestly, some I handled well and others I did not. Those I handled well propelled me forward, while those I mishandled stunted my potential in significant ways.
Churches experience constant change as well. Even the BCM/D is in the midst of change. At this writing, we are in that interim period between executive directors. As an organization, we most assuredly will need to embrace change as it unfolds for us. Not to do so will only lead to ultimate irrelevancy.
When the winds of change blow, churches (and BCM/D) must decide whether we are going to be defined in the future as “maintenance” organizations or as “missional” ones. Just to maintain the status quo (“maintenance”) will ultimately lead to settling for less than what God most certainly has for us. It will typically lead to becoming plateaued or in outright decline. But becoming increasingly mission focused (“missional”) will ensure that new thresholds of ministry can and will be achieved.
In Luke 19:1-10 there is a great story…if you like change. (I am always reminded of that song I learned as a child in Sunday School: “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he. He climbed up in the sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see.” (Many of you remember it as well, don’t you? Come on, admit it!)
I have thought a lot about Zacchaeus’ decision that day to climb up into the sycamore tree. To be sure, due to his being short in stature, he had to stretch to get up into the tree. It reminds me that you and I need to position ourselves by stretching toward what God has for us. It is so easy for us to stay in our comfort zones and not stretch our faith muscles at all. Zacchaeus knew that, in order to see Jesus, he would have to gain a higher perspective. He had to stretch out and grab hold of the lowest branch he could reach. He also knew that once he pulled himself up onto that first level, the rest of the branches higher up would come into play. The application for us is so clear. If we don’t stretch to the next level for us, we will never be in position to maneuver further up to see what God is doing. If you stay on the ground level, perhaps because it seems easier or more comfortable, you will miss many blessings that God has for you.
One last thing…the other thing I noticed in this story is that it says, “When Jesus reached the spot, He looked up.” I wonder how Zacchaeus’ life would have been different if he had decided not to run ahead and position himself to be able to see Jesus. If he had not been up in the tree at that precise moment, Jesus would have gotten to that spot, looked up, and Zacchaeus would not have been there. Zacchaeus would have missed being able to take the Lord to his home and, more importantly, he would have missed the life transformation that every genuine encounter with Jesus always brings.
I urge you to embrace the change that’s either in your life right now or just around the corner. It is coming! Stretch yourself towards it. Put yourself in the best position you possibly can to both increase your perspective and to be able to encounter Jesus in the midst of your change!