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Wendy's, Burger King and Church Change

Four years ago I began to get discouraged because I sensed God changing me. During this time I noticed my focus changing, and I became concerned about reaching people we were not having success reaching.

The more my desire changed, the more frustrated I would become. I began to want something I wasn’t in position to make happen. God was changing my heart, and I honestly thought He wanted me to live out that change in my church.

So the changes came.

Some were great for the church, and some were not as beloved. It was frustrating because I knew these were good changes. What I didn’t understand was that God was doing a work of preparation, grooming me for my future while I was becoming frustrated in my now.

I am still totally convinced what I did wasn’t wrong; a lot of people gave their lives to Jesus during that time; it just wasn’t a good fit for the situation I was in, and some people just didn’t “get” the vision.

Maybe God isn’t trying to change your church. Maybe God is trying to change you.

I talk to a lot of pastors (and lay leaders) who are frustrated that they can’t steer the church they lead in the direction they feel God is leading them. Because of all I’ve been through, I find myself thinking: “Maybe God isn’t trying to change your church. Maybe God is trying to change you.”

Want a Taco with that Frosty?

In the late ′80s, Wendy’s used to have an all-you-can-eat taco bar. Frostys, chili and chicken sandwiches are awesome—tacos, noodles with meat sauce and chocolate pudding out of a can … not so much. It was also during this season that Burger King experimented with being a sit-down restaurant at night. In my local BK, they would make you sit down after you ordered and a waiter would bring your Whopper and fries to your table. Chances are you don’t remember either of these instances because they both failed—they were trying to be something they weren’t, and it didn’t work out.

Before you have true change in a church, God must bring true change to people’s hearts.

Churches often think a music change, a visual update or a younger pastor will change their situation, but the truth is, before you have true change in a church, God must bring true change to people’s hearts. Don’t add the taco bar (or the contemporary service at 8:30 a.m.—the people we should be trying to reach usually don’t visit churches at 8:30 a.m.).

If you are in a church and find yourself being challenged by God (not to mention frustrated in your situation), I would advise you lead your church leadership to find out who they are—be the best at doing that kind of church you can possibly be. You can bring new life to a service without changing the whole church.

I always make these suggestions to churches that want to improve their services:

Put more coordination into place.

Pick songs that actually go with sermons/topics rather than just picking popular or congregational favorites.