Story and photos by Francine Biere
From a small campus of three acres to one of 43 acres and from a multipurpose family life center to a projected 28,000-square-foot worship center, it’s obvious Village Meadows Baptist Church in Sierra Vista has changed dramatically over the past 52 years.
According to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus, “The only thing that is constant is change.”
Pastor Mark Pitts strongly believes change must begin with prayer.
“A wise pastor will give prayerful, careful consideration to what God wants for this particular church at this particular time,” he said. “Pray for the Holy Spirit’s leading and pray to passionately hear the voice of God amidst the roar that comes with the call for change from hundreds of blogs, tweets, journals, books and professional growth strategists.”
While all these resources are available, Pitts believes God’s will is rarely an exact match to other’s ideas. And, according to a recent message the pastor gave, when you exercise faith in God, in reality, you are taking a risk.
Innovation in an established church might best be explained by understanding that the actual definition of innovation is “restoration or renewal” which, according to Pastor Pitts, speaks to the ongoing need of an established church to understand that inherent in the maturing process is the reality that restoration/renewal is constantly needed. And, that the more established the church, the harder one has to work at making restoration/renewal happen.
He believes the best and healthiest approach is to answer this question: How are we doing at reaching the lost and wayward, as well as leading our members into an ever-increasing love relationship with Jesus?
“That answer should clue us in to the reality that not only is change needed, but what exactly needs to be changed,” he said. “If ‘how’ we do church is ineffective in any of these areas, then we need to change how we do church in that area.”
According to Pitts, communication is vital for churches and pastors who want to get ahead of the curve of change. It begins with seeking feedback from the staff and then the church council.
Finally, he advises bringing thoughts, concerns, observations and God-inspired conviction about the need for change before the church family.
“In the final analysis, the change you seek to lead your congregation through will only successfully occur if they have ownership,” he said.
Back to risk taking, Pitts believes that taking risks of faith is significantly easier when you’re doing it with other believers. Every change Village Meadows Baptist Church has gone through has required the entire church body to step out in faith.
“When you follow God’s leading, there is provision for you,” Pitts said. “God gives that congregation the energy, talent, ability, people and resources to accomplish and fulfill His leading.”
A book that has been critically helpful in preparing for the seismic changes the church in America is facing is 10 Tsunamis Impacting Ministries by Daniel Cook. Pitts knows the author personally and has been moved by his love and passion for the local church and the insights he offers on surviving the changes/tsunamis that are coming and, in fact, are already here.