By Lt. Colonel L. Raymond Peacock –
Years ago, I was taught “What leadership chooses to measure becomes important; what you count matters!” For several years we in the West have been emphasizing “People Count!” by counting new soldier enrollments, increased attendances and even “Counting to Ten” on our prayer lists. In the next few months, you’ll hear more about “Disciples Count” as we talk not only of reaching, winning and enrolling, but also discipling those whom God has given us to mentor into Christian maturity. Whether it be corps growth, “People Count!“ or “Disciples Count,” it all comes under the MISSION2000 banner.
Speaking of 2000–the new millennium–it will be here before we know it. So much has changed since 1990, and since “nothing endures but change,” we can be sure more change lies beyond 2000. I wonder if anyone has ever counted the changes this Army has made and asked if those changes really counted, really made a difference? Anyone for a “Changes Count” crusade?
A new friend of the West, David Schmidt, says churches today are under tremendous pressure to change. He humorously suggests there are those in the Change Everything camp! “Let’s run the pews through a wood chipper and mulch the bushes out front.” And, then there’s the Change Nothing crowd: “Nothing doing! My grandfather donated the lumber for those pews. We need to take better care of them.”
I’ve been thinking about change a lot lately. James O’Toole, author of Leading Change, has provided 33 hypotheses why change is resisted. He suggests “…groups resist change with all the vigor of antibodies attacking an intruding virus.” He quoted Lee Iacocca, Chrysler’s super-salesman, as topping the great thinkers on the subject in three pithy sentences. “From Wall Street to Washington, from board rooms to union halls, what anybody with power is most scared of is change. Any kind of change. Especially change that is forced upon them.” Elsewhere, O’Toole suggests it’s not only the powerful, but the powerless who fear change, making change truly exceptional in our modern society.
So, you’ll understand my jolt when I read elsewhere, “Change is the church’s business. It is the church’s business because it is God’s business. The Bible reveals a master plan for change–personal, relational, social and universal. Change is God’s agenda.” So says Dr. David Cormack in his book, Change Directions: New Ways Forward for Your Life, Church and Business.
It seems to me that everyone talking about the necessity of change is not necessarily for it. Most prefer to be conformed rather than transformed. Indeed, the overpowering desire to be left alone, not to be bothered by progressives, reformers and change junkies, is strong. The status quo would seem to be human nature. Apparently, it’s not God’s nature. Since change is God’s agenda, it needs to be every Salvationist’s agenda as well. And, while I think I hear a chorus of “amens” regarding the need for change, I also think I hear some whispering quietly, “Yes, but what’s on that agenda?”
Salvationists in the West will have several opportunities over the next two years to answer that question. Later this week the MISSION2000 Council will reconvene in partnership with TERLOC to assess the impact of MISSION2000 to date and to consider its final phase, “Disciples Count.” Next year, a territorial survey of officers and soldiers will ask what changes are needed most as we reach 2000 and move beyond. Following the survey, there will be regional opportunities to dialog on the results and to discuss the future agenda. All of this is part of a process of listening, seeking healing, consensus building, finding new ways forward–Visioning.
Prayer, personal and corporate, will be central to seeking the changes that are needed and the agenda that is needful. Dr. Cormack alerts us that, “Prayer has many functions. …But, first and foremost, prayer is opening ourselves to the God who is able to change us. When we open ourselves to the God of change, then we open ourselves to change. If we pray for change, then the first result we need to be prepared for is a change in ourselves.” God’s agenda for changes that count will begin with every individual Salvationist who prays, “God change our world, our society, our Army.”