District Council – The Challenge to Change

If you have no interest in the Assemblies of God, feel free to skip this entry.

While District Council had some positive aspects, there were some major issues that emerged during the business meetings last week.
I was part of a group of pastors who proposed legislation at District Council in the attempt to change some dynamics in our district.  These changes were voted down handily.

This reminded me of Jesus’ parables of the patch and the wineskin (Mark 2:21-23).

I am not stating that the new is good, and the old is bad (or vice versa).  The point of these parables are clear – old paradigms and new paradigms are not compatible.

At the Tennessee District Council it became clear that two groups of ministers have two different paradigms, and they are not compatible.   Each group had deep conviction that they were in the right, and there was very little to compromise on.

Two facts immerged from our floor discussions:

#1 Organizations must change or die.

#2  Not all changes are good.

So take your pick.   I can respect those who differ with me because they disagree with specific changes.   However, to make no changes is naïve and irresponsible.    Our movement is in negative decline, so there must be some kind of change or the inevitable will occur.

9 thoughts on “District Council – The Challenge to Change

  1. Andrew Wharton

    Well Aaron in addition to your thoughts at this point I would add that one of the more difficult task in leading organizations is trying to reach and achieve a balance of power, control, service, need and usefulness for those involved.

    The Tennessee District adds an element of complication to the above due to philosophy of whether we are a church structure or democratic body, and then in addition to that we add this element of “corporative fellowship” and its definition. The collision of these dynamics deepen the complexity of change.

    I know I am stating the obvious yet it speaks to the fact why adjustments weather needed or not are a slow moving element in organizations.

    As with all structural bodies we are involved with, we can only make a difference when we get involved and I know that requires energy, effort, and enormous amounts of time. At the end of the day we each decided our level involvement. Yet without involvement the inevitable will occur.

  2. pastorcarlo

    I appreciate your thoughts. After taking a week to cool off (or should I say let God cool me off), I think I’m determined to keep believing in change. The soldier in me won’t let me quit because the battle is too rough. I want to be the change I desire to see. For example, I desire more diversity in our state fellowship. If I leave doesn’t that make me one less young brown guy? I desire a change in some of our methodology (like the 3 resolutions that were defeated). However, I must be willing to participate in our current system if I want a seat and voice at the table of any future change. Anyway, thanks for the thoughts.

    *Sorry for using a war analogy in the context of ministers and ministry that should be about peace and unity. ; )

  3. I don’t know that any of us were truly surprised at the outcome but I noticed a couple things that are very troubling.

    I don’t mind anybody disagreeing with me but did there seem to be an extreme polarization of the body when ideas were presented. Many perceived (and perception is powerful) that new ideas were either “against” the district, individuals, or groups when the reality was none of the resolutions were “against” anything. On the contrary they were “for” new means, methods, and mindsets to facilitate future growth. We must have rules of engagement, but our current format forces the individual to choose a “for” or “against” position. Once that decision is made every inning is played for the chosen team.

    Also I was confused, at the very least, at the fear and lack of faith regarding financial issues. There seemed to be this economic bondage with no hope that God would provide even in hard times. I don’t understand how these good brothers preach the foundations of faith and walk in such fear. Faith doesn’t deny fact but it certainly should defy fact (over rule it).

    A question: Are we a fellowship of ministers or a fellowship of churches? The reason I ask this question (knowing the pat answer is both) is that the comment was made that laity should not be involved in ecclesiastical decisons. As far as I could tell we were only discussing methodolgies and not doctrine. Barna research reported in Enrichment magazine Spring 2010 page 20, reports that larger churches have a far more commited body of believers on seven of eight measuring points by a margin of 17 percentage points. I need to draw from that well. We have innovaters and explorers in our congregations that can bring a lot to the table if permitted. (Was that a tangent? sorry)

    Any way, we move on but my personality causes me to take definitive positions on everything from doctrine to Coke vs Pepsi. For that I repent often but still feel I must speak up. Thanks you guys for your support and willingness to offer solutions.

  4. Scott Dobbins

    Aaron, I really appreciate your heart and desire and that of others, that are wanting change. I too believe that in an ever changing culture, we must look at new ways of how we do church. However, where I differ from those who supported the proposed changes at District Council, change may be what we need, but just because the resolutions set before us, were defeated, does not mean that Leadership or other Pastors have archaic ideas or a desire for status quo. What it means is, let’s work together, young and old, large church or small church, brown, white, red or other ethnic backgrounds. Let us work towards meaniful change, not change for change sakes, we have seen in America what that can get us. Let’s not look for legislation that benefits a few, but has no real affect on reaching the harvest. I welcome working with all my brothers, other churches, other denominations to reach the lost and the hurting. If that is not at the core of why we do anything, we are in this for the wrong reasons, and we must let love be our guide. Love for God and love for others. I believe that the message of buiding the Kingdom of God is bigger than what our largest churches can do and out of reach of smaller churches if we isolate and hide ourselves, afraid to work together. Blessings to my fellow Pastors and friends, praying for you all and Praying that the Lord of the Harvest, send workers!

  5. wow aaron – I appreciate your candor on this…

    As a worship leader I’m a big fan of the “sing a new song” scripture reference in the bible (Psalm 96:1). I believe God remains constant (unchanging and never wavering) but that he is Lord of a universe that is ever evolving, and he’s made it apparently clear that he delights in new and fresh offerings.

    Our culture is moving fast and in many directions creatively and even religiously. One thing it is not doing however, is staying the same… we are coming up with new ways to share hope with people as are many religious groups around the world. I believe the Church has to be aggressive with it’s faith, and how we communicate it to others. This should affect every aspect of the way we do ministry in 2010 even down to the very legislative ideas you are talking about within certain denominations.

    The church has to decide that we are determined to do whatever it takes to reach the lost before we serve ourselves, our committee’s, our board meetings, and our particular denominations.

    To pretend as if we’ve got everything figured out and that there is no room for improvement or “change” is just heartbreaking. As believers we’ve got to be willing to fail… because if we’re not, then we’d be holding back our best from a God who’s given us his best.

    thoughts from someone without a dog in this particular fight 🙂

    Love you man –
    AK

  6. Thanks for all the responses guys.

    Andrew – your question is pressing – is it worth it?

    Carlos – you’re going to be a great leader whatever you do. Yes, diversity would be beneficial and appropriate.

    Ricky – as I mentioned in a previous blog, denominations are essentially a pastor’s organization by the nature of their functions. Decisions are made for self-preservation of the pastor. The whole attitude of “the District has my back.”

    Scott – you are one of the nicest guys I know. Looking forward to coffee next week.

    Andy – as I mentioned at lunch last week, you are seeing this issue clearly and far down the road.

    Fun dialogue all!

  7. LOL @ Pastor Eddies remark!

    Great dialogue. Gandpa always said: “Son, if your not quite sure about what to do in a situation, it’s best to do nothing till you know that you know that you know.”

  8. Love the responses and thoughts. Now, for Stoner’s $.02! ha! Listen fellas, I love this fellowship and I’m thankful for the AG Pastors in TN. I’ve had time to reflect on that week and the thing that concerns me the most, in my humble opinion (ha), is that there is an environment that has been created within this fellowship that won’t even be open to dialogue or new ideas. If one presents a new thought – method – than one is marked and labeled by pastors and leaders who don’t even know our hearts. Obviously, there is a clear disagreement over a few fundemental beliefs that still must be addressed. To be very honest – I understand the desire / conviction of ‘making a difference’ and ‘being a voice of change’ – sticking w/ this fellowship. But I also understand that there could be some who simply won’t fight a battle that they think they can’t win. For those who fill that way – we may see them leave this fellowship. With all that said, I believe in the power of prayer. I have all confidence in God and His leading and direction for all of our lives, churches, and ministry! Love you guys! Appreciate your hearts more than you know!

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