Your pastor of discipleship had an epiphany in the middle of the night not all too long ago… making change in the church can often be like reading one of my favorite books as a child, Green Eggs and Ham. Let’s look at the two characters in this story.
Sam-I-Am is a pushy little pastor who embodies the spirit of global evangelism, relational discipleship, and life transformation by encouraging his people to always ask the question, “How can we make this church better than it already is?” and reach more people with the gospel. The summer of 2022 may appear to be an endless barrage of “time for change” and “something new is about to happen” language that the average church member may feel like the other character in the story. In Dr. Seuss’ story, Sam-I-Am is essentially breaking down the other character’s will to resist green eggs and ham by pestering him endlessly. I trust that “pestering” is not your actual feeling, but your discipleship leadership team is hoping that the congregation will see the ultimate benefit of this new schedule, which puts the church in a position of growth and simplicity. Sam-I-Am’s marketing scheme is simplicity itself: he keeps asking the other fellow whether he would like to try his strange, unappealingly colored product in a number of various and increasingly preposterous scenarios: here or there, in a box or with a fox, in a house or even with a mouse. How many of our people in your classroom have simply discounted the time change all together, even before we have done one day of the new schedule? They’re saying, “I do not like green eggs and ham, Sam-I-Am, you leave me be.” I seem to remember a line from my past, regarding the seven last words of a dying church — “We’ve never done it that way before.”
The other character in the story is twice as tall as Sam-I-Am but otherwise remarkably similar in appearance. His first words are that he doesn’t like Sam-I-Am, which seems to indicate that he has been the target of the little marketing genius’ advertising strategy before. It appears that from the start, Sam-I-Am is the enemy to be avoided, like he’s saying, “I’m not buying what this guy’s selling.” Pastors are like that. We come up with all sorts of ideas to reach people with the gospel and make church a better experience for outsiders, always asking the question, “What can be done to make church better” and “to reach more people?” The larger character starts out with a cold resistance to Sam’s non-stop sales pitch, but ultimately makes the worst mistake any consumer can ever make: agreeing to try the product as a means of getting the sales guy to finally stop. After tasting the unpleasantly colored ham and eggs, he discovers it tastes delicious and becomes a devoted and, likely, a lifelong raving fan of future ideas by Sam-I-Am.
I hope that months and years down the road, we can look back at the summer of 2022 and come to the conclusion that all the turmoil surrounding time changes, class schedules, worship style, and church leadership, perhaps seeing that none of these brought down the church like we feared it would. Perhaps the changes made this summer will actually benefit the vast majority of the congregation. We feel this schedule fixes the problems discovered with the 2021 schedule. We are positioning ourselves for growth. We will become proactive rather than reactive when it comes to people showing up because they sense God is at work here. We have to ask ourselves the hard question, “Will God show up here if we don’t follow his leadership?” Are we not really saying, “We just want to go back to Egypt no matter what may be waiting for us in the Promised Land.” So, here is the parable, “Try green eggs and ham, maybe just try them. You may just like them, we will see.” My friends, maybe, just maybe, this new schedule will work out very well, so the question that each of us must ask ourselves, “Why am I so unwilling to give it a go?”
I hope that Sam-I-Am, the pastor who is trying to help the congregation experience something new (to see if this schedule really does work better), that perhaps he will have earned your trust, acknowledging that he had your back all along, just encouraging all of us to grow in faith, follow Jesus closer, look at the needs of others more than ourselves, to reach people who have not yet walked through our doors, for us all to serve enthusiastically in ministry, and to intentionally welcome people with the love of Jesus as they enter this place. Even Jerry said, “The best is yet to be.” He did not say, “This is the best it will ever be.”
[ Borrowed from an idea from Timothy Sexton, at gradesaver.com ]