Thursday, November 23, 2006

Changing Times

I was just watching John Fogerty performing during the half time of the Chiefs/Broncos game. A few minutes in a stadium hardly gives a hint of this man’s talents, but it was fun to be reminded of the great Creedence Clearwater Revival music.

While watching Fogerty, I was also looking through some old photo magazines. Reading reviews of products that have long since come and gone, I couldn’t help but think about change. Only ten years ago, I was considered a master at a craft that is now obsolete. For over twenty years, I was as good as anybody in the world at making black and white photographs. Film, chemicals, and photographic paper were my livelihood and life. It has now been years since I was in a darkroom, and I am not sure why anybody would want to be. Digital cameras, computers, and ink jet printers can easily surpass film in quality.

The world has changed. Creedence Clearwater Revival is history and Tri-X, Plus-X and D-76 are heading for museums. Resisting change is not only futile but dangerous. John Fogerty does some nostalgic shows, but he is also doing new music, always looking ahead. Somebody has wisely said that those who resist change will inevitable be affected negatively by that resistance.

In business, we risk being left behind. In college economics we talked about buggy whip manufactures. Today we could be talking about film processors, video tape editors, carburetor mechanics, or mainframe computer programmers. Businesses have to constantly be looking down the road to stay ahead of fast moving technologies.

In ministry, it is not so obvious. Because the bottom line is not easily measured, we can be years behind without even knowing it. Peter Drucker said that if you are doing anything the same way you did it 5 years, it is probably wrong. I know of many ministries, churches, and other not-for-profits that are still following the same model set up by the founders in the 1930’s, 40’s, or 50’s.

As Christians, we cannot afford to ignore the changing cultures. We must be relevant, flexible, and proactive if we want to bring Christ’s message of love and reconciliation to a hurting world.