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Cumulative Change: Radical Change without...Radical Change
By Nicholas Zork

“We’re going to totally reimagine our worship service!” 


Are you inspired by statements like that? I know I’m not. But, of course, I still make them all the time — in worship ministry and otherwise:


“I’m going to workout two times every day.”


“I’m never eating sweets again.”


“I’m going to save $[unreasonably large number] every month.”


Such bold resolutions rarely come to fruition, but we continue making them. Why? Part of the reason may be the false assumption that we need to change everything at once.


Perhaps you’re currently at the NAD Pastoral Family Convention in Austin and all the great workshops are leaving you feeling more burdened with good ideas than invigorated. Welcome to the club. I know few people who are short on good ideas and many who wonder how they can possibly implement those they already have.


Here is a simple but transformative suggestion:


If you want to experience radical, positive change in your worship ministry, start by changing just one thing. 


The truth is that sustainable, radical change is often the cumulative effect of small changes, consistently maintained over a long period of time.


Working out twice a day, for example, may be good if you have that kind of time. But a 20-minute walk every day sounds a lot more doable. And if you keep it up for year, the practice could yield radical cumulative results.


In our impatience, we tend to seek quick and drastic solutions that are, in fact, so immense we never get around to implementing them. And even when we do, we find them difficult to sustain. 


Instead, identify — in collaboration with your worship ministry team — one small but important change you could make in your congregation’s worship service or planning process. Implement that change this coming week and — assuming it’s effective — commit to maintaining that one change for the next several weeks. I suspect the cumulative effect will be more significant than you expected. 


In my congregation, we recently made a small but consequential change. We started holding our Sabbath morning pre-service participant meeting and prayer 20 minutes earlier. It was hardly a radical move, but the extra time has, in fact, radically changed the state of mind of those leading worship from the platform. A stressful, frantic atmosphere has been supplanted by calm focus on the important ministry of pointing the gathered worshippers’ attention to Christ. 


Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt 11:30) It’s likely that what’s truly weighing us down are not Jesus’ expectations but our own. May we be encouraged and patient as God transforms us and the worship services in our congregations in ways that — while not always swift — are cumulatively radical and redemptive.