Published 11:15 am Saturday, June 28, 2014

by Andrew Book

Change is difficult. For the most part, we are people of habit and routine. We enjoy what we know and what we are familiar with, so when change threatens what we know, something inside of us objects. “What is wrong with the way things are?” we ask — both to ourselves and others.

Change invites us into the unknown. When we are faced with change, we are moving from something we have come to understand toward a future that is unclear. We can respond to the unknown with fear or with excitement (or with both!). Change brings out these emotions and more in our lives.

Change is also the new normal. If the 21st century has become known for anything, it has become known for change. The people, places, and ways of living that were normal for us only a few years ago are changing — and they will change again — as technology and society change around us.

We are all faced with change. Sometimes it is a change we want — like a new job opportunity, new friendships, or the chance to visit new places. Other times the change we face is painful, challenging, and makes us wonder what the future will hold. Our children are used to change as their normal way of living life. They spend nine months learning from one teacher or set of teachers, only to reach a season of change where they say farewell and spend the summer wondering what the next school year will be like. Some of my summers as a child were spent rejoicing that I was done with my teachers from the previous year. Other summers were spent mourning the loss of a teacher who had become a good friend. Regardless of whether the year before had been good or bad, something new was coming, and with it came both fear and excitement of the unknown.

While the speed of change has increased, the challenges that come with change are nothing new. The apostle Paul had to help the churches he led to navigate times of change, and it was not always easy! In his first letter to the church in the Greek city of Corinth (what we call “1 Corinthians”), Paul had to mediate between a group of people who said they supported him and the group who said they supported the man Apollos, who helped lead the church after Paul left. Paul explained change in a way that was helpful for them and can also help us as we face change today. He said, “After all, what is Apollos? What is Paul? They are servants who helped you to believe. Each one had a role given to them by the Lord: I planted, Apollos watered, but God made it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:5-6). You can read the story about Paul, Apollos, and the Corinthian church in Acts 18. Each leader had a role. One planted, another watered. Apollos helped the church in ways that Paul did not (and quite possibly helped in ways Paul could not!). Apollos’ work in the church built on what Paul had already done.

The result was that the change from Paul to Apollos actually helped the church! Their gifts and talents worked together to produce growth. Even though the church’s first reaction was to take sides, in the end, the change was actually the best thing that could have happened to them.

So, what change are you facing in your life?

You may be facing change that you have chosen or change that has been thrust upon you, but either way, change is an opportunity to grow in ways that would not have been possible before! My hope for you is that you would embrace the change you are facing. Acknowledge the ways you are both excited and afraid and recognize that change comes with the opportunity to grow. God only knows what your future will hold, but I am sure that your future has opportunities for you to grow. Take hold of those opportunities!

At Courtland United Methodist Church, we are in a season of change as well. Pastor Brandon has been a great leader for the church over the last few years. He has “planted” some great seeds. Now it is my turn to “water” those seeds and see what kind of growth God will bring. Over the next few weeks, I will be offering my “First Words” as we gather in worship on Sundays at 11 a.m. to share about how God has gifted and called me to lead the church. I don’t know what God’s future is for us, but I hope you will join us as we explore together what this new season of growth will look like!

ANDREW BOOK is the new pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church. He can be contacted at 653-2240 or