the weblog of Alan Knox

Love is patient… especially when it comes to change among the church

Posted by on Dec 11, 2012 in blog links, discipleship | 6 comments

Love is patient… especially when it comes to change among the church

Kathleen at “Church in a Circle” has finished her 12 post series called “Tomorrow’s Church.” The last post in the series is called “Tomorrow’s church – Part 12: It’s time to shift your mindset.” (There are links to all 12 posts in Kathleen’s series at the bottom of that last post.)

Kathleen’s last post in the series is all about change. Change. I don’t know if you’ve heard this before, but change is not easy… it’s not comfortable… it’s not always pleasant. And, that’s just change in the life of one person. What happens when you multiply change over many people?

This is what Kathleen says about change among the church:

Change is happening in the church as we speak. You may or may not be aware of the simple church movement, the organic church movement, the missional movement. In the past month, I’ve attended two meetings in my city where entire denominations are exploring new, discipleship-centred models of church. There is a steady movement among God’s people worldwide towards a fresh expression of church, towards participation, engagement, involvement and empowerment. There is a rumbling discontent amongst pastors and churches, and a Godly longing to make disciples instead of filling pews. The majority of God’s people in every denomination are uncomfortably aware that the system is no longer working.

I agree with Kathleen. Change is happening. People recognize that there are problem, and many are addressing the problems. Certainly different people are addressing different problems, and they are addressing them in different ways. But, the thing is, change is happening.

Her post made be think about what happens when different churches (i.e., different groups of brothers/sisters in Christ) began to change. I’ve been part of a group that has been changing (continues to change) for several years. I’ve also observed others churches who have been changing also… and many of them (most?) have been changing differently than us.

So, what happens when a group of brothers and sisters in Christ are changing, but they are not changing in the way or in the speed that we think they should change? Or what happens when someone thinks that you should change in a different way or at a different speed than you are changing? (And, you are changing, right?)

Is that the time for strong proclamations, denouncements, taking sides, separating, shouts of heresy… Well, if you read some blogs or books or articles, you might think that’s the right response.

But, I think that’s the wrong response… completely wrong.

Instead, change… and change is always occurring, right?… change is a time for patience.

So, I definitely agree with Kathleen that churches are changing. As we see that change (whether it’s happening like we think it should or not), we must have patience… patience with God… patience with others… and patience with ourselves.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 12-11-2012

    It’s time for CHANGE! It’s time for more mutuality, more fellowship in an open way between all the members of the Body. It is time for all the members of the Body to rise up and function in their measure.

    And it is time to drop all names and de-nominations and simply be “Mrs. Christ”, that is, His disciples, believers, Christians! Lord, start this change with me, with us!

    I’m happy to see this change, and I’m looking forward to hear more and see more fellowship in this direction.

  2. 12-11-2012


    Yes, I’m happy to see change among the church as well. I have to remind myself of the importance of having patience as people are changing.


  3. 12-11-2012

    I’m pretty sure that certain personality types embrace change more than others. In fact, church has operated by the pulpit/pews model for so many years that I fear certain personality types have been excluded – until recently. I am enjoying seeing more diverse and beautiful expressions of the body of Christ.

    Thanks for your series, Alan – I always enjoy what you have to say. Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings too!

    – Kathleen

  4. 12-12-2012

    Thanks for the reminder. Mindsets are certainly a difficult thing to change. When I start getting impatient for others to change, I am reminded of my own 15-year struggle through mindset change that is still woefully incomplete. I think we’ll be corporately better off if we let the Holy Spirit change the Bride’s mindset rather than trying to force it to change on our own.

  5. 12-12-2012

    Impressive timing… yesterday I was working on the characteristics of love/God from 1 Cor 13 and had gotten to patience where I adopted some ideas from Hufford’s THE MISUNDERSTOOD GOD. Here is how it looks at this point:
    God is Patient
    Patience with a person is not gritting your teeth and avoiding interfering by doing or saying what you ‘just know’ will speed things along and set them on the right path. Instead, being patient with a person lies in seeing into their heart. Once you love them and understand them…what makes them tick…the issues they are struggling with…you can handle what comes out of them. This kind of patience is not suppressing or holding back anger…it arises out of understanding so that truly…down inside…you are not angry….Paul urges the same characteristic on Christians:
    Ephesians 4:1-3(NET) I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
    Our false image of God is of someone expecting and demanding perfection…getting impatient if we don’t ‘get it right’ fast enough.
    To correct this false image, consider two Old Testament accounts where God was patient. First we have Moses getting a direct word from God out of the burning bush. Once God gets his attention and tells him the assignment, he has a string of excuses…at least five…but God patiently answers him up until his final flat refusal, and even when God’s anger burns against him, God does not destroy him or relieve him of his mission:Exodus 3:1-14;4:1-17(NET)[text omitted due to length]
    As a second illustration of God’s patience, consider the story of Elijah. The account is preceded by the dramatic events on Mt. Carmel with fire falling to consume the sacrifice and the slaughter of the prophets of Baal…but as this chapter of the story begins, fear of Jezebel leads then Elijah to a full-blown emotional collapse:1 Kings 19:1-18(NET){text again omitted here]
    Notice God’s patience. Twice the angel feeds him, and twice God patiently repeats Himself, asking Elijah what he is doing in the wilderness. God has work for him to do but He patiently listens to Elijah’s pity party…I alone am left and now they want to take my life. Even this Old Testament picture of God shows His patience.
    God is no different in the New Testament; we see His patience with Peter when God is directing him to include Gentiles in the church:Acts 10:9-20(NET)[text omitted a third time!]
    Peter raises his objection three times and three times God patiently gives him the new directions that will revolutionize his thinking and the direction of the early church. Even after three questionings, the Spirit has not given up.
    Some preachers assert that if we keep on falling into sin or don’t get with God’s program quickly enough God may abandon us…or at least bring unpleasant things into our life to ‘teach us a lesson.’ What a contrast with Scripture where we have a picture of a God who keeps on working in our lives to bring good—right up to the end of our time on earth:
    Philippians 1:3-6(NET) I thank my God every time I remember you. I always pray with joy in my every prayer for all of you because of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
    Now there is patience!

  6. 12-13-2012


    Thanks for the great series! Very practical information for us to think through.


    Yes, remembering my own struggle is often a reminder to have patience with others as they change as well.


    Thanks for the info. Yes, you’re right… patience is much different than we often think of it. The Spirit-created patience is demonstrated in situations in which we would not normally be (and not expected to be) patient.