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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Al little Sam Cooke for your soul

If you listen to one song today, listen to this one Change is Gonn'a Come  The artist is Sam Cooke. The coolest cat I've had the privilege to listen to, and he is the one artist I wish I could have heard live. That first line, out of the horns and strings, "I was booorn..." makes me tear up every time. That Mr. Cooke, that man could write a tune. And sing it.

And change does come. Maybe not fast enough for some, maybe too fast for others. They call me an innovator when it comes to change in congregations.


I've done stuff in congregations that even early adopters take five years to catch up on. There are only two numbers in my world: one (1) and A Lot. There is no in-between. Either you change or you die.

One of my most formative conversations happened with my college roommate and best friend Marty. We were sitting on his porch as I was about to begin to seminary. He was worried that my lifestyle, my temperament, and my need to do things my way might not work well in a typical Christian congregation. He was wrong. They don't work in ANY congregation, typical or not. Except that it does...People want to change. People don't want their congregations to die.

Since we all know change is going to come, people are often waiting for it--and when they see me--they pretty much know it's here. The look my late father-in-law gave me upon first seeing me told me he knew things were never going to be the same for him...or his daughter.

I wonder were Jesus might have fit on the "adoption scale?" He doesn't seem to be an innovator, as a lot of what he did has stories that go back, way back. But you wouldn't call him a "laggard" either, would you? Jesus had a lot of people with him, many of those might have been early adopters. It's tempting to think of Jesus' opponents as "laggards," but they could have just been competing early adopters or innovators. (Especially if you believe, as I do, that Jesus was a Pharisee early in his life in Jerusalem before he embarked on his own ministry outside of Pharisism.)

Now, unlike Mr. Cooke I have not been running. I embrace change. I seek change. I create change if no one else does. The change he was talking about involved his understanding of being a black man in a white-dominated world, and that a change is coming. Maybe the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States was the last (the laggard) of Mr. Cooke's innovation? Maybe not. But change does come...how do you deal with it?

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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