Collins Books are in trouble. They're selling off or closing down stores in an effort to survive. The reason? Competition from Amazon and newcomers to the Australian market like Borders.
Collins had a secure place in the world of bookselling. But the world changed. Collins has been left behind. It happens all the time. Proud businesses go out of business.
Most declining churches are shielded from this harsh reality. They survive for decades on artificial life support.
If you're not in that category, you may like to know what successful change looks like for a church. Here are my three commandments:
1. Thou shalt be conservative
Too many attempts to "modernize" or "post modernize" the faith erode the non-negotiables to accommate a godless culture. If you want a case study you can't go past the mainline churches that modernized in the 60s and 70s. Once trendy, the party is now over. Their churches are in free fall. No one's listening. Along the way they lost something.
2. Thou shalt take a risk
In a changing world, if you're not moving, you're being left behind. Core beliefs are your anchor while you change everything else in order to get the job done. Keep making that innovative return to tradition. Again and again and again.
3. Thou shalt keep the best
Ruthless evaluation. I love the first two commandments. I hate this one. Hard choices have to be made. At the end of the day is this innovation true to our core beliefs? Is it working?
Here are my biases: - Are people coming to faith in Christ? - Are they growing in obedience? - Are disciple-making groups and communities multiplying? - Are we developing godly and effective leaders? - Are healthy churches growing and multiplying? - Is the surrounding community and culture being transformed by the presence of the Kingdom?
If the answer is "no" - do something about it. Make an innovative return to tradition. Try lots of stuff and keep doing what works.
If you don't, eventually the Owner of the business may visit you and close down your store (Lk 13:6-9).