The times are a’changin’ & changin’ fast! Computers in your eye glass, Broadband faster than a cheetah, Mobile Phones with TV, camera, diary, torch, & coffee maker built in; Car gadgets, Robot servants, etc. Ever felt left behind or wanted the world to stop & let you off? Adapting to change is difficult, just ask churches! But change we must.
40+ years ago Switzerland looked set to dominate watch making well into the 21st century. In 1968 the Swiss made 65 % of all watches in the world and took 90 % of profits. By 1980, however, they had laid off thousands of workers and their market share fallen to 10 %. What happened? They refused to accept a game-changer – the Quartz movement.
Because quartz had no traditional mainspring or dial it was rejected, too big a shift in thought. To them a quartz watch wasn’t a watch at all? So, Seiko & others accepted change and became the new market leaders. Swiss watch making lost its marvelous momentum & historic household name, undermined by an unwillingness to radically rethink how time can be measured. As many redundant church buildings prove, past accomplishment is no guarantee of sustained success.
The lessons are obvious for the church and anyone interested in changing society for the better or selling a product. I believe The Good News of God’s Love for us in Jesus Christ, is the Greatest News of all time, but the means of helping others to recognize and embrace changes. Otherwise it will lie like hidden treasure under the dust of tradition & ‘the way it’s always been done’. Ask me 10 years ago, that today I’d be ‘blogging’ & ‘vlogging’ I’d have thought you vulgar. Tell me that I’d have an internet parish of several 1,000s with whom I’d communicate via computer & phone I’d have said “Whit man!?” Mention that our services would be ‘streamed’ each Sunday I’d have wondered why we’d be meeting in a river.
Fortunately some things never change, like the importance & value of sacrificial, unconditional love & ‘lifelong commitment’, which God demonstrates for us through Jesus. There’s nothing to beat good ‘old fashioned’ kindness, care & concern for your neighbour. Likewise, lifelong commitment in marriage, based on ‘unconditional love’, is crucial to society’s wellbeing. Come-what-may, committed loving, grows ever complex in our challenging world, but, like ‘old fashioned’ air and water, there are some things we let slip or replace at our peril.