Rethinking Change

What brings change?  How do we become different people?  Some say it’s the people we care about and the challenges we face that change us. I think that’s part of it.  As followers of Jesus, we are also shaped by the Holy Spirit and Scripture. Some of our most life-changing moments happen when there is a confluence of these elements. Influential people, wisdom from past experiences and our faith guide us through personal challenges and we emerge transformed.

I experienced deep change when I was a pastor in my previous church.  After eight years as Associate Pastor, the Human Resources Committee suggested I take a three-month Sabbatical.  I wasn’t quite sure how to interpret that.  On the one hand, it could’ve been a good thing and they may have wanted to invest in me – “Pastor, please go and be refreshed.”  On the other hand, it could’ve been a bad thing; they may have wanted to send a different message – “Pastor, please just go away.” I chose to believe the former.

I had three young kids at the time. Going away and leaving my wife alone for several months didn’t seem like a very good idea. My wife agreed.  So I broke the Sabbatical up into several shorter segments throughout the year. During that time, one of the best things I did was to take a class called “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement.”  Most of my friends warned me that it would wreck my life; meaning I would never be the same. They were right.  “Perspectives” opened my eyes and heart to the radical idea God is moving in the ordinary and the miraculous to reclaim, heal and restore every nation, tribe and tongue that was lost when sin wrecked our world.  The course showed this to be the central theme of Scripture; a narrative thread of human history and hidden truth embedded within every culture.  God has come to rescue all of us and His name is Jesus!

In the end, the course lived up to its reputation. I was deeply changed.  I finished with the deep conviction God was calling me to mobilize people to be part of this great global revival project. And to make sure I was paying attention, God gave me a sign I couldn’t miss.  Having taken the class in Pasadena, CA, I returned to my Washington home and sat down at my desk to read my mail.  There, on the top of the pile, was a letter from the Pastor Search Committee chair at BelPres.  The committee wanted me to apply for their Mission Pastor position. That was seventeen years ago.

What has brought change in your life?  What can you do to bring change now?  How can you know and connect with God’s call for your life?  “Perspectives” has been one of those transformational experiences for me. For that reason, I recommend it to those seeking change.  It is a big time commitment (15 weeks) and there is a lot to read.  It’s a challenge and challenge is nothing more than a catalyst for growth and an opportunity to be made different.


Perspectives is coming to BelPres September 5- December 19 .   

5 thoughts on “Rethinking Change

  1. Well said, Pastor Rich! I totally agree, and am praying for a great awakening in Belpres as a result of people having their lives wrecked by taking this course!

  2. For 15 years I was encouraged by friends to do “Perspectives.” When I finally ran out of excuses, I realized I’d wasted 15 years. “Perspectives” not only grounded me in the history of the church and God’s plan for all of humanity, but reminded me why I’m a Christian, what I should be doing about that, and how to do it.

  3. Rich,
    Thank you so much for this excellent article you’ve written about Perspectives! May the Lord increase our class as people are willing to take the plunge. I’m deeply grateful for your support.

  4. Perspectives gave me some terms and ways of thinking that have served me well and are readily at hand as I look at mission and ministry. One Perspectives term that has been particularly useful has been the concept of making mission “infinitely reproducible.” That is, we can mess up future spread of the church in a region if we inadvertently set up a standard that can’t be easily reproduced. An example is if we pay for a physical church building to be built in some remote place, then the locals will expect that in order to have another church, and yet another, that all of them will require having a church built like the ‘fancy’ one. So our good deed that we thought was so thoughtful ends up stopping church expansion. That’s just one example of how Perspectives has “wrecked” my life for good.

    1. Thank you for that good word, Dave! Thank you, too, for promoting Perspectives when the Lord gives opportunity. There are two classes in the Seattle area this fall and two in the Spring that are great options —

      Bellevue Presbyterian, Tuesdays beginning September 5th
      Redmond Assembly of God, Wednesdays beginning Septeber 6th

      Northwest Church, Lynnwood, Spring 2016
      Chinese Evangelical Church, Seattle campus, Spring 2016.

      Thanks for spreading the word!

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