Adapt or Die in Ministry

An older pastor told me that the key to surviving in ministry is “adapt or die.”  That statement was made to me over twenty years ago.   If it was true then, it has never been more true than going into 2022. Covid issues, technological advances, podcasting, social media, infrequent attendance, and a host of problems have impacted how the community of believers does Church.  

Don’t mishear me. The core of our faith never changes. Believers stand firm on the unchanging witness of the scriptures. However, once we stand on the Bible, everything else is subject to change to meet the needs of the people during the age in which they live. 

That means the future of the Church will look different than the past.

This transformation is not because the old ways were evil. The world is changing, and we need to use every available tool to reach people today. Just like the culture around us is different than it was twenty years ago, the Church must be ever-changing. 

Not all new approaches will be welcomed. Some transitions will not be smooth. But all adjustments are necessary. The old pastor was correct; the Church must continue to adapt or die in every generation.   

Improving Every Year  

Each one of us just gained another year of knowledge. 

Hopefully, you learned some new information through books, sermons, podcasts, lectures, blogs, TED talks, classes, and lectures. 

There is also the experiential knowledge you obtained.  The lessons came from success and doing things the right way.  Also, there is the hard-earned education that you received from your missteps and failures. 

As you go into the new year, you can use the lessons from the past year in ways that will make this year better and more fruitful.  Last year can be the stepping stone to improving this year. 

Reflect, learn, apply, and then do better – one year at a time. 

Time to Start Over

A friend of mine taught me that the human mind likes new beginnings. So we love Monday as a chance to start over. Likewise, new months and seasons are opportunities to mark the end of one adventure and start the next. The same is true for a new year. 

In one way, nothing changed, but in another way, this is the perfect opportunity to put the past behind us and start fresh. 

On Saturday, I will throw out last year’s calendar, put away paperwork, and write an annual report of events. Simultaneously, I will get out a blank new calendar, start new empty files, and develop a to-do list. 

The new year is here, even if it technically doesn’t change anything. I hope you will allow it to be the open door for change and transformation in your life. I don’t know what God is placing on your heart to improve and become more like him. But now is a great time to start.   

What Do You Say?

I said it a thousand times to my children. Someone did something nice for them, and then I would look at them and say, “What do you say?”

They knew the answer was always two simple words, “Thank you.” 

Whenever we receive a blessing, our response to the people who gave it should be gratitude. 

So before we start making plans for the new year and write down all of our hopes and dreams, be sure to stop and be thankful for the past year. Be grateful to the people who have blessed you. Also, be sure to thank God who gave you another year. We are guaranteed nothing in this life, and each day, along with each year, should be received as a gift. It is well worth your time to spend a few minutes thanking God for this past year and all the blessings that came with it.

We expect our children to show good manners whenever someone does something nice for them. Should we not set the example as adults?

Top Posts

I want to offer a quick review of this past year before moving on to the next.

I know some of you are long-time readers and others are new, but I wanted to make sure you had all read some of my most popular blog posts.

Most popular posts written in 2021

5. [TIE] It’s A Wonderful Life Moments

Christian Swagger

4. Truly Attractional Ministry

3. Three Pairs of Shoes

2. Reliving Yesterday

1. Holding Up Moses’ Arms

Most popular posts read in 2021 (written any year)

5. Non-Verbal Communication at Church

4. What A Pastor Thinks About at the End of the Week

3. Marriage Analogy

2. What Could Happen on an Idle Tuesday?

1. Four Old Testament Foundations of Evangelism

Thanks for reading over the past year and I hope you will continue to do so in 2022

No Amount of Prayer

Praying for God to change something is ineffective if your actions do not align.

You can pray all day and night. You can have a strong faith in God. You can believe that God can do something powerful in your life. But none of that matters if you act in ways contrary to your prayers.

Prayer does not negate the stupid stuff we do. It works together with our actions to produce results beyond what we ever imagined. It is not a way to avoid the consequences of our sin and stupidity.

Keep praying. Then do your best to behave in Godly ways to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Non-Speaking Participant

For Christmas, I watched the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” for what seems like the hundredth time.  Even after all the times I have seen it, I still get choked up.  And every time I watch it, I see some detail I had never noticed.

This time through, I noticed a character who never says a word.  He is Mr. Potter’s server.  He stands behind his wheelchair and caters to his needs.  It appears one primary function is to push his wheelchair, but the rest of the time, he stands quietly behind his chair and never says a word.

What troubles me about this is that he is complicit in Mr. Potter’s behavior. First, he sees Mr. Potter get his hands on uncle Billy’s deposit.  He watched him hold onto it while watching Billy frantically search everywhere. Then, he stands quietly while George begs for a loan or some help. He sees Mr. Potter do an unthinkable evil on Christmas to George and the Building and Loan and never says a single word. 

I wondered, “What would make a person quietly stand by when they know an injustice is happening?” Maybe it was because he didn’t want to lose his job. Perhaps he also has a grudge against the Bailey family.  Maybe he is purely evil too. 

I don’t know his reasons, but he becomes just as guilty as old man Potter by his unwillingness to confront the evil he sees happening. 

I wonder what wrong God has revealed to you this past year.  Who is being mistreated?  Who needs help?  Who has been wronged and can’t find the justice they need?  Who could use a friend and others pass them by?

Maybe God has opened your eyes to a need because he wants you to do something about it.  At the very least, he wants you to say something.  No follower of Jesus is given a non-speaking part.

That One Christmas Post

Remember that one Christmas post you read that changed your life?

Yeah, me neither.

I have written a lot about Christmas through the years, and I have spoken even more. Unfortunately, none of it really ever changed anyone’s life.

The only thing that changes people is the baby in the manger.  The savior of the world has come, and he is changing hearts and lives one person at a time. My job is to point people to Jesus and allow him to do a mighty work in their life. 

I pray you encounter Jesus this holiday weekend.  May your December 25th be filled with family, gifts, and most of all, the love of Christ. 

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NIV – 2011)

Merry Christmas Everyone.