August 19, 2014


Believe it or not, more energy is wasted turning on lightbulbs than it takes to simply leave them on. The energy required to activate the reaction of a burning element inside the lightbulb is much greater than the energy it takes to sustain that same reaction of the element burning. The extra power it takes to start the reaction is called ‘activation energy.’ 

Chemistry is a scientific discipline all about getting one thing to turn into another thing at the most fundamental level. This happens in “reactions,” which sometimes means adding heat, sometimes requires the presence of other substances to start the reaction, and other times simply requires lots of time. Most of the time, it means all three. And at the end of the reaction, there will always be a product and some waste. To make things more complicated, in the real world, as soon as you change one thing, the products and by-products of that reaction will change their surroundings, and you may get secondary or even chain reactions that you didn’t expect. 

The same is true for implementing change.

When we start new ministries or change existing ministries at a fundamental level, it will always require activation energy. We’ll need more time, usually more financial resources (buying that curriculum, advertising, equipment, whatever), and of course, additional people to get things up and running. Sometimes this will mean being willing to add more stuff to an already busy schedule for a little while (if it’s truly activation energy, it should calm down after it gets started).

Then, when we decide to implement that change, we have to be willing to pay the price of the by-products and the chain-reactions. That means also being willing to lose some of the stuff we had from before that no longer fits the new vision (events, old equipment, etc.) - good things, valuable things! And, speaking of valuable things, it usually means being willing to lose a few people who just can’t get behind the change. It doesn’t mean they are any less followers of Jesus, it simply means they might better align their gifts or resources with another part of God’s vision elsewhere.

It will never be a question of “if” change, but rather of “what” and “when” and “how” change. God is a God of creation and of creativity, which means He’s always starting new things, re/making things new one at a time, and what’s more, the world around us is also always changing. Whether or not we’re ready - to use another metaphor - are we willing to hoist our sails into the winds of God’s Spirit and follow? Are we listening to the Spirit who moves to new horizons? Are we willing to put more of our resources and effort into activating new ministries in response to a changing world (and let others die) if that’s where God is going?

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