NUMC Nameoki United Methodist Church 1900 Pontoon Rd.
Granite City IL 62040-2339
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Change is critical to the success of any organization. So here are my six reasons why change is a non-negotiable:

C - CONSTANT - Change is constant. Jesus himself reminds us that you can’t put new wine into old wineskins. Organizations that fail to change die. Have you noticed the change that has hit the retail industry due to the impact of the internet and Amazon? Consider the last 10 years:

     2007 SEARS $22.4 Billion sales-----------------2017 $1.3 Billion

     2007 MACY’S $20.6 Billion sales----------------2017 $9 Billion

     2007 JCPENNY $18.3 Billion sales-------------2017 $1.9 Billion

Online worship has become a critical necessity in our online world at Ginghamsburg Church. The online worship pastor who is now part of our staff was not even in our strategic plan five years ago.

H - HEART - Identify the heart of the mission that never changes. The core values. The DNA of the mission. At Ginghamsburg Church that core mission is embedded in Jesus' mission statement that he read in his hometown synagogue found in Isaiah 61. To bring good news to the poor and set oppressed people free. To reach the lost and to rebuild broken places. To change the world one life at a time.

A - AUTHENTICITY - Keep it real. Make sure that the change is authentic to the nature of the mission. Never change just for change sake. Beware of short-term fads and gimmicks. Keep the long-term goals in mind. I have witnessed the long-term failure of short-term thinking that resulted in overburdened debt and leadership burnout in some very promising young leaders.

N - NAME THE WHY - The leader must always name the reasons why change is absolutely essential to the success of the mission. Change is often met with resistance because the reason for change is not articulated in contagious alignment with the mission. In 1980 our little two-room country church was filled to overflow in the one worship service that the church had held at the same time since 1876. I explained that we had to start a second worship celebration. Was I met with resistance? You bet I was. But I clearly articulated that Jesus’ mission was our mission and preached about the good shepherd and the ninety-nine and one. If there were 99 safely in the house and one lost on the outside, the good shepherd’s mission is always focused on the one on the outside. We went to a second worship time and soon after added a third.

G - GREAT - I read an excellent article in the May issue of Inc. entitled, “Escape the Mediocrity of ‘Good Enough.’” Good is the enemy of great. God is a God of excellence. Jesus saved a wedding reception by turning water into wine. And in the judgement of the wine connoisseurs that were present, Jesus’ wine beat the good wine that was served first. Never settle for just good enough. I’m always looking for ways to reflect the excellence of God, without neglecting grace in everything we do.

E - EXPERTS - Delegate, delegate, delegate. Ginghamsburg Church was one of the early pioneers in media ministry. While working on my doctoral program in the 1980s, I discovered that people’s learning patterns were changing. A study that came out of one of our local universities revealed that the average college graduate only read one and a half books a year. People were learning to depend more on alternative media outlets (seeing vs. reading). Just a few years later we would experience the explosion of the internet revolution and its impact on learning styles. I am not a tech savvy kind of guy. Fortunately, in the mid-1990s, I stumbled onto two creative young men (Jason Moore and Len Wilson), who joined our staff and put Ginghamsburg on the map as a pioneer in media ministry. There are experts who can lead you into God’s next, sitting in your church just waiting to be asked!

Rev Mike Slaughter has led Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Ohio for 38 years, and is retiring on June 30th 2017. During his time as the pastor, the church has grown from less than 100 people in worship, to a weekly attendance of 6000. Not surprisingly, his church has experienced a lot of change!

“Change” – it’s a 5 letter word that strikes fear into the hearts of church folks everywhere!

You’ve likely already read the article on Change from Rev Mike Slaughter in this newsletter. Mike is retiring this year after 38 years serving the same United Methodist Church in Ohio – a feat almost unheard of in Methodism! He retires having led a small out of the way church of 90 or so folks (a number which grew down even further during his first few years as pastor) all the way through to being the 4th largest United Methodist Church in the United States, with 6000 people in worship every Sunday.

Change, for the sake of change, is always a mistake! But change in order to begin, support – or even end – a vision for the future, is vital to the health and well being of the church – or for that matter, just about any other community organization.

Let me share with you all – briefly – my personal vision for Nameoki UMC.

1. That we would continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by reaching out to people in Granite City/Pontoon Beach “one person at a time”.

2. That we would become a congregation of storytellers – learning how to tell and live the story of our faith to each other and to the world, “one person at a time”.

3. That we would grow and become a worshipping community of (approximately) 500 in the next 5 years, “one person at a time”

In order to make room for new growth and fresh flowers, roses need change... or to use a more common word, pruning! Sometimes that pruning means familiar faces leave us and non-familiar people take their place. Sometimes that means well-seasoned leadership retires and new people and green ideas rise to the surface. Sometimes that means much loved ministries end and something innovative takes its place. What is true about change is that it always creates friction – even if the change is needed for the future survival and efficacy of the organization (in this case, the church).

You’re probably wondering right now, “what’s the preacher about to change”... and the answer is... well, nothing right at this moment. But I know that if we are to grow into the future, pruning and change are inevitable!

The ancient communities had to embrace change or they risked being left in the history books of time. Even the prophet Isaiah wrote about change - Look! I’m doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it? I’m making a way in the desert, paths in the wilderness. Without change, we would still be wandering with the children of Israel in the desert.

So why stay in the desert of today – when the promised land of tomorrow awaits.

Pastor Mike

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