We got a new computer last night. Let the headaches begin.
I spent hours reloading old software, trying to remember passwords that long ago left my mind, and getting used to a new system: Windows Vista. It's a challenge changing platforms--moving from one look, feel and way finding, to another one. Perhaps, in time, we'll get used to it.
Years ago, a Christian magazine spoke with me about writing an article on the topic of switching churches. They wanted a pastor's perspective on when it's right and not right to "switch platforms." Other responsibilities crowded out that article, but I have since thought about the topic. In every church I've served at, people have left. Sometimes, they left for good reason [like needing to replace your computer]. Other times, they changed churches for poor reasons [like the person who invests in a new computer because the beige electrical cords under the desk better coordinate with his off-white carpet].
As I think about the rationale for changing churches, two caveats shape my thinking. First, I endeavor to be theological. I try to base my decisions on what God says because my heart isn't always the best indicator of what is true and best. Second, I believe that the Body of Christ, locally and universally, is precious. Our unity trumps all personal preferences. Unity means that we work hard at reconciliation [see Matthew 5:23-24 and Matthew 28:15-17 ]. Unity means that see ourselves as thermostats changing the temperature around us, rather than thermometers, who report what's heating up, but do nothing to bring about solutions.
Some families have no choice but to change platforms. Perhaps a job exports them across the state and staying at a church isn't practical or possible. But, for the rest, booting up to a new system usually isn't the answer. God is more honored when we hold high the ever-changing, richly-diverse community called the church. It's hard work, I know. But it's essential for our own maturity, not to mention the mirror we become reflecting the grace of God to the world. So, as I struggle to configure my new computer tonight, pray for me. And I'll be praying for you. Soli Deo Gloria.