Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
In this passage, the word for transformed comes from the Greek word “metanoia”, which means a shift in thinking, a paradigm shift, a change of an inward reality.
In October, Debbie and I went to the Missional Developers Assessment Conference in San Anselmo, CA. It was sponsored by the PC/USA and it gave great insight on where the church is today and what kind of leadership is required for the church in this present culture. It gave us a great picture of the changes in our denomination and helped to further our growth in understanding of the change necessary in the church universal.
The analogy that one of the facilitators used was of the need for “adaptive change leadership”. Often we feel like when we have challenges put before us in the church, or in any organization or institution, that we can fix our issues that need fixing by simply making technical changes. For instance, if we break our leg, we can put it in a cast, take care of it, stay off of it, and rehab it. If we do steps A through B, then our foot will probably come back stronger than before. That’s also the mentality in organizations when faced with a changing culture or challenging issues. If we just “work harder” or “smarter” (terms I’ve personally used!), we can “right the ship”.
However, that’s not what the church needs today. It does not have a broken foot, it has lost its foot and it needs to adapt and have “adaptive change leadership”.
We are living in a new cultural reality when it comes to church. People generally have either distrust or disdain for the church, or are simply ambivalent or don’t care. I meet both students and adults many times who consider themselves “church refugees”. At one time they felt comfortable, at home in the church, but now feel like the church has left them or has sold them a bill of goods that they don’t understand, want, or need.
The church has often responded to these refugees, as well as to others, with a consumer and/or corporate-business model or mindset that attempts to address perceived needs. Often, the church simply has not done enough listening, deep listening to the real needs of the culture around us. We go about “our business” in a paradigm that the world simply doesn’t get, it is foreign to them.
We need to change, we cannot settle for “business as usual” or status quo. We cannot make cosmetic changes, it’s not simply about budgets or program changes, we need to listen deeply to the culture around us and seek out what God wants us to do and adapt to God’s purposes for this world that may look radically different from the way we’ve done “church”.
People are searching for deeper relationship with others and, ultimately with God. People desire and need relational connection and they need the Truth. The Truth, as revealed in Scripture and in the world, which is Jesus Christ. A God who is incarnate…one of us. They need to see this Jesus, this God, demonstrated through honest living in the culture, not against the culture.
I do not have the answers. But, I do know that we need a transformation and renewal of our minds, and our souls, in order to be the body of Christ, the church, to the world around us. We need adaptive “change”, or metanoia, leadership.
May we all be changed, transformed, renewed as we go on this journey together.