After reading a couple of comments and having a few conversations with some good people, I would like to clarify something about this Change-or-Die thing from a previous post.
I am not against, afraid of, or otherwise opposed to change per se. Rather, I disagree with the motivation for change that I have heard church leaders lament, namely, that change is necessary in order to prevent the church from dying.
In fact, I think the church most definitely needs to change (we might even say reform), but not just to stay alive. That is a selfish, narrow-minded, and short-sighted motivation. Rather, the church needs to reform in order to stay faithful to the mission to which God is calling it. In order to continue conveying the Gospel, the church must interpret its message into a language that will be understood, and that will require continual and continuing reformation.
When my seminary class on our Brazil trip needed to communicate, Larry served as our "interpreter," not as our "translator." The disctinction is critical. A translator just takes the message word for word and relays it. But an interpreter takes the meaning of the message and conveys it, making sure that the hearer understands. The church can be, and ought to be, the primary interpreter of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So that makes it impossible for me to simply say to someone, "Jesus died for you" without interpreting it so that she or he will understand what that means.
I think the church needs to change the way it interprets the Gospel, so that the meaning (which remains unchanged) in conveyed in a lanugage that will be understood. Some of those changes will include "smaller, more intimate communities of faith that are open, relaxed, and center around experience, encounter, and relationship" rather than the "large, high-intensity organizations that were demanding, strictly organized, and centered around belief, morality, and membership." (Quotes are from my previous post). This is not change for the sake of change; this is not "Change-or-Die"; this is not even about changing in reaction to those nasty mega-churches ;) This is about changing in order to remain faithful to the mission to which God is calling us.
Grace and Peace,