To Change or Not to Change
"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love."1 "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."2
You've undoubtedly read about Swiss watchmakers who, for many years, dominated the world market for watchmaking.
"The Swiss made the best watches in the world and were committed to constant refinement of their expertise. It was the Swiss who came forward with the minute hand and the second hand. They led the world in discovering better ways to manufacture the gears, bearings, and mainsprings of watches. They even led the way in waterproofing techniques and self-winding models. By 1968, the Swiss made 65 percent of all watches sold in the world and laid claim to as much as 90 percent of the profits.
"By 1980, however, they had laid off thousands of watch-makers and controlled less than 10 percent of the world market. Their profit domination dropped to less than 20 percent. Between 1979 and 1981, fifty thousand of the sixty-two thousand Swiss watchmakers lost their jobs. Why? The Swiss had refused to consider a new development"3—the development of the digital watch.
Some time ago I wrote a Daily Encounter with the title, "If the Horse is Dead, Dismount." Some readers felt that I was suggesting that we change much of what we were doing in the church for change's sake. I was not suggesting this at all. What I was saying was we needed to make changes in our methodology where what we were doing was no longer effective. The Swiss were right in that watches were still needed. Their mistake was that they weren't open to adding a new method for watchmaking.
Years ago when I was a director of a youth organization and started changing our method of reaching teens with the gospel, I was told that my methods weren't acceptable. I was given an ultimatum—either I stayed with the "accepted ways" of doing things or get out. I chose the latter. And that's how and why ACTS International was founded. (To be perfectly honest I would never have had the courage to start my own organization had I not been "pushed out" of the one I was with.) For the next three decades I majored in publishing outreach literature which has been distributed to more than 40 million people around the world—and is still being distributed by our office in Australia.
However, here in North America, with the revolution of electronic communications via E-mail and the Internet, had I not been willing to change my methodology once again, my work here would be dead. I haven't changed the message—just changed the way of communicating it.
Let us learn a lesson from the Swiss watchmakers. If we need to change our methods to be more effective in what we are doing, let's be willing to make and implement the necessary changes.
At the opposite end of the scale, where even some churches and Christians are making changes just to be politically correct and are thus accepting behaviors that are drastically opposed to what the Word of God teaches—let us, as the Apostle Paul advised, stand firm in the faith and in harmony with the Word of God regardless of what the secular world thinks or the media promotes.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, give me a love for and an understanding of what Your Word teaches. Help me to discard that which is out of harmony with what You say, and always stand firm in my faith and hold fast to that which is good—regardless of the pressure to be so called politically correct. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV).
2. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (KJV).
3. Quoted by Brett Blair. http://www.esermons.com/.