In life, the waves of transition often come rolling in strong. We blink and the hymns of old have been reimagined to include an electric guitar, our children seem to have gone from tummy-time to riding a bike instantaneously and no sooner have we adjusted to the latest computer update, a new one is popping up and prompting us to install!
Other times, the work of change can be likened to the planting of a seed, the pruning of a crop and the patience required through each season. We asked Bishop Sandy Millar to offer some guidance on how to bring about change in the church. He began his helpful overview with this;
“These three things, they all begin with ‘T’ in English: teaching, testimony and time. So, if you’re going to change anything start teaching about it.”
Jesus, the personification of revival, calls us to a life of transformation; to repent, to love our enemies, to leave our old lives behind, and to follow Him. He did this by spending time with others, delivering sermons and teaching people through everyday examples and parables. He welcomed questions and even addressed his critics. He shepherds us through it all.
“Second of all, it needs testimony…it’s very important to have a lay person that’s not paid to believe, standing in front of the congregation. To have somebody who is not paid to say, this is what I was, this is what I am, and it’s Jesus that has made the difference, is very powerful. Because you can be conscious all the time, that as they are saying that, the spirit of God is whispering to people in the chairs, he did it for him, he did it for her, he might do it for me. And that’s important.”
Remember when Jesus healed the man born blind, causing speculation and division amongst the local people and Pharisees? When questioned, he simply professed, “I am the man…One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:8, 25)
There is also the testimony of the lame beggar who was healed when Peter prayed for him. The Bible tells us that he went into the temple courts, “walking and jumping and praising God.” People recognised him and were in awe at what had happened. (Acts 3:8)
Even now, it remains deeply impactful when people share testimonies of what Jesus has done in their lives. A basic account of what happened can truly challenge hearts and change minds.
“The third thing is, give yourself time. Most clergy overestimate what can be achieved in one year and underestimate what can be achieved in five. If you have the microphone twice a Sunday for five years, you can make a huge amount of difference – give yourself time…Teach, teach, teach, pray, pray, pray, love, love, love and your Church will grow.”
Those with green fingers will know that change blossoms in time. It can require a loving nudge, a lot of encouragement and a willingness to wait! It goes without saying, that positive change in the Church should always be rooted in love and encouragement. Thank you Bishop Sandy Millar!