People enamored by things they’ve built are unwilling to change until it hurts more to stay the same, according to Reggie Joiner, who has become a change agent for churches throughout the country.
Leading an “Orange” conference at Green Street Baptist Church in High Point Feb. 9 for church staffs, primarily youth and children’s ministers, Joiner walked them through processes to rethink ministry that is either “red” or “yellow” and blend it into orange.
He said red and yellow represent church and family and each can do only part of a ministry to children and youth. When you combine colors, you get a third color that opens completely new possibilities.
Instead of church staff implying that they can “fix the spiritual needs” of children and youth if families simply turned the children into the care of staff, ministers need to incorporate family members in ministry to multiply the positive effect.
He suggested carving 10-20 percent of time to work with families of youth and children and to help them address the questions their children will have during the 3,000 hours they’re at home and awake each year.
People are proud of what they’ve built and believe it should “be current and valid a lot longer than it is,” Joiner said, encouraging participants to be willing not just to make changes in the way they minister, but to upgrade frequently.
Joiner, one of the six original persons who founded the mega church North Pointe in Atlanta, pulled a 1984 version Macintosh computer off a table to demonstrate computing. When the audience snickered, he admonished them not to laugh because that machine in its day “started a revolution.”
But when Apple’s founders saw that Mac computer roll off the assembly line, they didn’t slap themselves on the back and say, “We did it. We’re done.”
He then pulled from a mailing envelope a Mac Book Air, a light, thin, powerful Macintosh that virtually everyone in the audience wished they had, and said there were about 40 computer models between the original Mac and this one, each meeting the needs of its day, and none being the ultimate computer that would prompt designers to say, “We’re done.”
Too many churches are stuck in a time warp, Joiner said, because it is “so easy for us to build something and think it should last because we built it.”
Church leaders are slow to upgrade their offerings “because change seems too costly,” he said. But churches are “afraid of the wrong thing.” He said churches fear the cost of change when they should fear the cost of not changing.
For example, he said church leadership hesitates to initiate changes for fear of those members who might leave, when they should rather fear for the souls of those they might never reach if they do not change approaches to move from their time warp.
“One hundred years from now the only thing that will matter is a person’s relationship to God,” Joiner told the 140 who filled a children’s worship area at Green Street. So he encouraged them not to cling too long and too desperately to programs that met a need earlier, and might not meet that need today.
It is essential that church leadership meet regularly together so that every area is on the same page. Youth ministry should not have a different agenda than children’s ministry or benevolent ministry.
If you are not around the same table, you cannot have a comprehensive plan, he said. Each time staff evaluates what they are doing, it gives them a chance to distinguish between core values and cultural habits in the church.
While we expect international missionaries to study language and culture in the nation where they serve, “We’ve forgotten how to be missionaries in our own land,” Joiner said. You can’t just add new ideas onto what you are already doing. You might need an entire new system.
For example he said he could not possibly download a modern Photoshop program onto his old Macintosh computer.
In the same way, “you can’t just take off your tie and have a contemporary service,” he said._ÑŒ
More teamwork is involved by connecting adults in the church to teens as mentors and disciplers.
While churches will never effectively compete with the entertainments of culture, “culture can never compete with the kinds of relationships you put together with kids,” he said.
During a recent meeting with 15 prominent youth leaders, Joiner asked them what they would do if they could do just one thing with their youth.
They all said, “I would do ministry with them.”
Leading by example, in relationship and plugging them into discipleship and service will cement their faith far more than creating another class or activity, he said.
The Orange event was sponsored by the Congregational Health group at the Baptist State Convention.
Group leader Lynn Sasser said the target audience was those who attend the Catalyst event in Atlanta. He has 100 tickets already purchased for the event that typically draws 12,000 from around the country.
To secure preferred seating with one of those tickets contact Brian Upshaw at [email protected].