I went to a website article about 10 Reasons Why Churches do not Grow, and one line caught my eye “The greatest enemy of your future success is your current success.” I first heard this theme watching a Peter Drucker video back in 2001. Peter Drucker, in his video, claimed that when a product or service is slowing down in its growth, that is the time to bring on something new.
Underneath that statement is that our current success depends on a combination of factors. Everything keeps changing, including the factors that created our current success. When the conditions that led to our success change, our success is at risk. If a congregation is geographically focused in what used to be known as suburbs, they will experience the consequences as those suburbs grow with mostly young families, fade as the children grow up and leave, parents age to become grandparents, then, due to failing health or other issues, leave, and are replaced by a new generation of young families. What works very well in year 10 becomes unneeded in year 20.
The successful communities of followers of Jesus a year after his death were very different from the communities of followers 90 years after his death. The church in Africa is very different from churches in North America. There is no one size that fits all in different cultures or times.
We can learn from our successes as well as from our failures, but we must not fall prey to our successes. Instead, stay aware of what is happening inside of us and in the world around us, observing the changes in the culture and other aspects of our society. Our Communications Person Shelley Den Haan tells us that most people under 45 spend two hours watching TV and five hours on their smart phones each day. For people under 25, I am guessing the numbers would change to less than 1 hour of TV per day and more time on smartphones. Most people over 30 were eager to get their driver’s licenses shortly after turning 16. Under 30s wonder why bother getting a driver’s license?
This message applies to us as individuals as well as organizations. Relationships can run into trouble when one or both partners fail to notice and respond to changes in the other partner. Our individual lives can become less enjoyable and rewarding if we fail to notice our own needs and interests are changing. What worked well for us last year might not be what is good for us now. Selling the canoe I had for over 33 years two years ago was a difficult choice for me, but I seldom used it and it was getting harder for me to pick it up and to load and unload it from my car. It was time to let someone younger and fitter benefit from using it.
I apologize for how this blog has meandered, but I hope it contains a few gems.