By Commisioner David Edwards –
Change Directions, Deep Change, Transformational Leadership–these are the names of three books that have been engaging my attention in recent weeks and months. In fact, New Ways Forward is the theme we will be using for the meeting of the Territorial Administrative Leaders Conference (TALC) later this month and three sessions are being devoted to the study of this theme, using the book, Change Directions, as the basis for our study.
What is my fascination with this issue of change?
I am not one of those persons who is obsessed by the prospect of change. In fact, I plead guilty to being a normal human being who has difficulty making changes. Like the rest of you, I want to preserve my comfort zones. I feel at home with the familiar. I prefer the tried and tested.
I have, however, learned over the years, especially being an officer of The Salvation Army, that changes will come whether or not we like them. That is the reality. As someone has suggested, change is the only thing that remains constant.
Like people, organizations can and do become resistant to change. They move through stages in their growth and often reach that point where they either are more protective of their achievements and will no longer take the risks which come with making changes or are so satisfied with the status quo that they see no need to do so. Their philosophy is that it makes no sense to fix it, if it doesn’t need fixing.
The need to remain relevant
History has proven, however, that organizations which survive and maintain relevance are those which seek to find ways of dealing positively with the changes which take place in and around them. Since changes are unavoidable, these organizations spend time anticipating and preparing for them. They endeavor to keep control rather than allow themselves to be controlled by the changing circumstances.
Challenged by rapid changes
There is nothing like moving from one country to the next, or from one culture to the next, to challenge one’s innate resistance to change. One has to learn to adapt if one is to survive and be happy. This has been our experience–my wife and me. It would be true to say that some of the biggest changes we have experienced so far have occurred within the last six months, since coming to the Western Territory. We have had to learn fast. We are still learning.
That which has become obvious to us is that here in the West we are constantly being challenged by the rapidly changing attitudes of the society in which we minister. This means that we have to find ways to manage the changes that are occurring as a result, if we are not to find ourselves at their mercy. We have to learn the art of anticipating them. In fact, we have to become agents of change ourselves if we are to survive and remain relevant.
The God of all change
The Scriptures reveal that our God, who himself is unchanging, is the God of all change. In his book Change Directions the author, David Cormick, suggests that change is the church’s business because it is God’s business. He says “The One who does not change is in the business of change and requires that the Church as a body and its members as individuals be partners with Him in the process of world, societal and personal transformation.”
I have no idea what this new year of 1998 holds for this territory. What I do know is that we will continue to be challenged by the rapidly changing attitudes of the world in which we serve. As the Church, we have an obligation to remain relevant, not by comforming to the world but by finding ways of communicating that the unchanging message of the Cross still holds a viable solution for the problems of our world.