The tension between adopting new strategies for mission and maintaining the current way of doing things can become too much.
Those who long for change become frustrated that things are not moving on quickly enough, and those who want to keep to the established patterns are threatened, even overwhelmed. Then both start to view each other with suspicion.
But change is inevitable. Either the church renews itself to meet the current challenges or it does nothing and inevitably dies. Either way, it changes. Even Jesus acknowledged it. He said that you don’t put new wine into old wineskins (Matthew 9:17), meaning that when God is at work, new structures are need.
If Tasmanian Baptist Churches are to become mission shaped, then the old wineskins must be replaced. If not, they will explode. The result will be messy and quite conflicted.
Change calls for courage: courage to end programs and traditions that have lost their effectiveness, courage to align all the church does with God’s mission into the world and courage to care as much about those outside the church as we do for those inside.
God is calling us to be mission shaped movement. Sadly, some churches are unable or unwilling to pay the cost of such a transformation. Their ultimate end will be to fade away and die. Yet, that need not be the end, after all, God is a God of resurrection and new beginnings.
The church that is willing to count the cost, face the challenge, muster the courage and make outreach into the community as its primary mission, God has given his promise that we will not be alone.
After all it is God’s mission and we are joining with him, and not the other way around.
Stephen L Baxter