Pastor Jack's notes: Growth v. Change

“I planted, you watered, but God gave the growth.”
1 Corinthians:3:6

What is the difference between the words “Growth” and “Change?”

I’ve gotten many responses to this question in the past month:

  • Change is scary; Growth is exciting.
  • Change is one person making decisions; Growth is making decisions together.
  • Change is quantitative; Growth is qualitative.
  • Change is a superficial shift; Growth is a spiritual maturing.
  • Change can be good or bad; Growth is ultimately positive.
  • Change is losing numbers; Growth is bonding more tightly in the face of loss.
  • Change doesn’t mean Growth; but Growth means Change.

I’ve been discussing this question with our various committees because in my first few weeks as your Senior Pastor I heard some variation on the same theme from many people:

We’re so glad you’re here to help us grow.

Don’t change anything too fast.

Pastor Clare led a great Children’s Time recently on this very question. She showed a picture of a young girl and asked the kids to guess who it was. One perceptive child guessed right: it was Pastor Clare! She then went onto measure the height of a number of children, discussing this idea of growth as she went.

We grow. It is a fact of life. And in our growing, we change.
We do not look the same as we did in our childhood photos.
And this church does not look the same as it did when it met in a milk house 86 years ago.

“I planted, you watered, but God gave the growth,” Paul writes in a letter to the church of Corinth, trying to heal the divides that existed among them.
This verse reminds us that Change is the work of humankind; Growth is the work of God.

Change is doing things different for the sake of doing something different;
Growth is becoming more like the people or community that God calls us to be.

This is the challenge for us now as a church:
To discern together how God wants us to Grow.

As the culture around us shifts, as people relate to church differently than they did 86 years ago, as people schedule their lives differently than they did 30 years ago, we need to Grow, not Change. We need to figure how God is calling us to be church together.

It may be scary sometimes. It will most certainly be exciting. But as long as we do it together, as long as we discern together, as long as we are prayerfully holding God in our decision-making process, we will discover who God is calling us to be. And that’s Growth.     

Pastor Jack