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Change for the Better

6 years ago written by

I face a dilemma every time I get a message telling me to update the operating system or applications on my laptop or phone. After I run an update, I sometimes get frustrated by unrecognizable icons and buttons that have moved. If I ignore the updates, however, I may miss important security patches designed to keep my devices safe and help them run more efficiently and effectively.

Speaking of technology, a visit to Facebook leads me to groups where some of my fellow middle-aged people and older folks complain about how things aren’t like they used to be. (Yes, we use the Internet to gripe about societal changes.) In a group about my childhood hometown, I read people insisting that the community’s unique characteristics are disappearing because of suburban sprawl such as chain stores and restaurants. While perusing entertainment groups, I turn on 1980s and ’90s tunes and then read likeminded people complaining about today’s clearly inferior music. I’ll then hop on a Facebook page about growing up in a church denomination, and I’ll read people asking where their favorite hymns are and why the sermons don’t seem as powerful as the ones they remember in their younger days.

Of course, no one is forcing me to read these comments about the “good old days.” I’ve joined these groups because I enjoy nostalgia. Still, I must face the fact that the world is going to change whether I like it or not, and change can be positive.

The same holds true for churches, which — without abandoning their mission — must evaluate and recalibrate their efforts to reach people for Jesus Christ. To quote the Free Methodist Church’s Multiplication Plan, “Recalibration is the difficult maturation of a church that either accelerates its effectiveness or uncovers its ineffectiveness and results in needed change leading to effective, Christ-centered, kingdom-focused, community-impacting ministry.”

The need for recalibration also applies to this magazine, which has a rich history dating back to 1868. As editor, I’ve occasionally republished articles from the magazine’s early days that convey timeless truths that still have relevance for today’s readers. Every article, however, does not stand the test of time. In 1917, this magazine ran an article strongly condemning the use of “gee whiz,” “gets my goat, “swell,” “for goodness’ sake,” “guy,” “kids,” “nutty” and “other slang expressions, some of which are too vulgar to mention.” One hundred years later, this article makes for an unintentionally humorous read, but it seems like a case of misplaced outrage.

This magazine’s articles must remain relevant for modern readers. The same is true of this magazine’s layout, which has changed dramatically over the years. My colleagues and I hope to be a part of leading and following change in the church. Next month, we’ll tweak our design again and expand our outlook to cover more of the global church. We hope you’ll stay with us through the changes and invite other people to read Light + Life in print and online. You might even post about us on Facebook.

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[Openers] · L + L June 2017 · Magazine

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