Blog Post by the
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Transitional Leader of the
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” Genesis 12:1
“The only person who like change is a wet baby!” Mark Twain
I believe the future of our denomination can be seen in our individual congregations. We have congregations of different sizes, different geographic locations, and different levels of wealth. We have some congregations where you have to wade through the children to get to the pulpit, and other congregations where there are no children present. We have congregations soaked in history and generations of membership, and we have congregations still forming their identity. We have seven congregations that are majority non-white, and several congregations where people of color attend, but they are a small minority.
Yet, there is one consistent feature in all of our congregations, change. And as one congregation recently told me, “We are old and aging, and we do not like change!”
In the book, Strategic Leadership for a Change, Kenneth McFayden uses the scripture text and Mark Twain quote from above. He writes that people do not fear change, they fear loss. Change means letting go of comfort, identity, and familiarity. It means moving beyond “This is how we have always done it.”
There is comfort in repetition. There is power in being the one who knows “how things work around here.” McFayden writes, “Many congregations find themselves in the throes of significant change. The culture is shifting, as are the demographics of communities and denominations. Congregations feel a sense of urgency to grow. What they do not feel is an urgency to change.”
Change means potential loss, and potential conflict. Change is uncomfortable, frustrating, and can even be painful. Change means walking in the fog of liminality, not sure where the ground is; not knowing if we are at the edge of the end or the first step of a new beginning. Change takes courage.
As the presbytery continues to move in the direction that God is calling us to go, we are challenged like Abram to step into the uncomfortable, knowing that God is calling us into new and exciting place. In 2018 we will continue to change-up presbytery gatherings; making them powerful experiences of fellowship, learning, and worship. We will push and challenge our pastors, ruling elders, and leaders to learn, learn, learn! We will continue to tweak our structure so that it will serve us, and not force us to serve it. We will be a presbytery connected to the social issues and changes that are happening throughout our presbytery. And this will only work if we work together.
Let’s come together. Let’s get connected. Let’s become God’s people for such a time as this.
Rev. Craig M. Howard