In the ancient world there were no glass or plastic bottles, instead people would put liquids into animal skins that were sewn together and used like canteens. Eventually these skins would become brittle, and rupture, spilling out the liquid.
Jesus referred to these wineskins when teaching his early followers and us about change.
And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.” “Matthew 19:17
We must understand that change is a not only inevitable but, in most cases, necessary and ultimately good for us. Did you know the first automobiles built in the early 1900s didn’t have rear-view mirrors? Now on every windshield hangs what we have come to think of as an indispensable devise that we wouldn’t dream of driving without. The change was a good thing.
Though a rear-view mirror is an extremely valuable accessory, the little mirror takes up only about 5% of the windshield. What would happen if you spent most of your driving time looking into it instead of focusing on what is down the road? My guess is that you would have a difficult time reaching your destination. I use this illustration to point out that many church people are still spending a considerable portion of time looking backwards. They look back to what was a glorious time in their churches past when their pews were filled, and their budgets were exceeded with donations. Our memories of a time gone by are precious but not practical when it comes to leading and managing a church in a way that is outdated and no longer effective. In his gospel sounding rock n roll anthem,”Keepin’ the Faith” Billy Joel sings, “Well the good old days weren’t always all that good and tomorrow aint as bad as it seems.
As church it is important to have a healthy balance of our history while being mindful of the future. We must keep our eyes on the highway of changing trends in music, language, style, dress, social media and communications platforms that are being used today that are dramatically different from where we came from.
Being aware of our changing culture and considering how it applies to you and your church is not about chasing trends but rather about seeing where the culture is going and adjusting. The culture around us has changed and as hockey legend of the LA Kings, nicknamed “The Great One” Wayne Gretsky attributes his success, “I don’t skate to where the puck is, I skate to where I think it’s going.”
For us in the church that means being aware of the sign posts indicating where culture is moving and then making the necessary lane changes that can put us in a position to be relevant to fellow travelers who no longer think we are.