If change is to happen in a congregation, the starting place is spiritual and relational vitality. Change will provoke resistance, disagreement, and even anger, so it is important that congregants have the kind of relationships and spiritual commitment that will allow members to overcome those responses and emerge as a healthy and committed fellowship.
Spiritual and relational vitality provide the strong root system that supports change. Those who work with trees tell me that the root system of a tree below ground is as massive as the spread of the branches above ground. If the root system is not healthy, it cannot support an expanding, growing plant.
We had a particularly dry summer last year. I did not think too much about how it impacted the trees around our house until we had a couple of windstorms and lost large branches off of several trees. The roots had inadequate nourishment, so the trees had been weakened. Even though the branches grew, they were not strong.
The congregation that is facing significant change must devote itself to its spiritual life and group cohesiveness. Even if you think that your congregation is healthy in both areas, an increased emphasis on prayer groups, Bible study opportunities, and fellowship activities would be a wise move. These activities strengthen individual members and the congregation as a whole.
As we grow deeper, we can reach higher.