It seemed like a radical idea. Last week we decided to transition all of the incandescent light bulbs in our home to the new earth-friendly CFL bulbs. I am not under the delusion that this will somehow "save the planet", but they last ten years and use 1/4 the power. I can live with that!
I was able to get a great deal on a whole bunch of them on Ebay. We changed every bulb in the house for under $35. I should recover those costs in a little over a year. After that, it's all gravy! I am more than willing to have others consider me environmentally responsible, but I must confess that my real motivation was capitalistic!
The question my kids and wife had was "will they be as bright as the old bulbs?" As I installed the first few new bulbs, I got a little nervous. They were definitely not as bright as the old ones. In fact, they were downright dim! Instead of being praised for such a responsible carbon-neutral decision, I would now be mocked for my foolhardy scheme. Oh the shame.
But alas, I soon noticed that the bulbs were brightening. In fact, they were clearly brighter than the old incandescents, and my fear turned to brimming pride. My daughter came out of the bathroom and said, "I can see myself in the mirror better than before!" Case closed.
You see, the new bulbs start out slow, but after less than a minute they warm up and outperform the old bulbs easily. We are now bathing in cheaper, stronger light, and we won't have to change bulbs for another decade!
Now for the metaphor.
We are in the midst of a huge shift in our culture, and in how the church functions and fulfills its mission in the world, especially here in America. There are many of our colleagues who fail to see how to make the necessary changes to transition their flocks. They are used to the yellow incandescent glow, and cannot imagine trying something new.
I must admit that initially the results of the changes we are making (Penn Del C3, attractional to missional, corporate to apostolic) look a little dim. My belief is that we are in the warming period. The full glow will not be seen for some years, but I am certain it will come if we stay on course. We must continue to change to stay on course. It's fluid.
I sense God's hand in it, and His pleasure as I let go of my tried and true formulae and grab a hold of His mighty coattails for a free ride into the light. I sense it when I share what God is doing and saying with a group of pastors. They either lean forward and their eyes light up, or they look away, fearing what the changes might mean for them and their church.
We were promised boldness when the spirit came upon us. Lord, deliver us from fear, and propel us with missionary zeal to embrace your change. These are radical days and they call for radical measures. I don't care to bask in the afterglow of dying embers when the Lord is starting a new fire. (sorry, I guess I switched metaphors there :))