March 13th, 2013. I was in a meeting. The meeting was not a church meeting, or a christian meeting. I was there as someone from the “voluntary sector” to engage with the local authority around the changes being introduced to enable services for children and young people to be more effective.
I was sort of listening, making notes (trying to make sense of the jargon that kept popping up) and asking myself – what difference is being made to this process by my being here?
After some service reviews of where different pieces of work are at, a consultant stood up. His role was to help us “manage change” and also to evaluate and monitor it. He asked, as he began whether “anyone, anyone uses any kind of “theory of change” in their work? Anyone?”
I hesitated, while in my head thinking “Jesus, He changes everything!” I then had an argument with myself (it has to be said, this happened quicker than I am going to write it down). I can’t say “Jesus . . . . can I?” Another part of me was saying “why not, He does change everything!” Is this meeting, with a bunch of people I don’t really know, who – as far as I know – have not factored Jesus into the equation when it comes to organisational change the place to say this? Then I realised I had my hand in the air!
This is, roughly, what I said – “Working in the faith sector I believe in God. In terms of a theory of change, there might be two aspects to that – formative and transformative change (these two things are thanks to Bob Mayo and the stuff he has written about working with Generation Y). Formative Change being change that primarily impacts us (a change of feeling, a change of mood or attitude) and Transformative change (change which maybe has a more lasting change and helps us to see the world differently, rather than just feel different – this might be where as Christians we have a sense of the transcendent, i.e. God)
Well, I said this – and then there was silence.
To give the consultant some credit – he tried to draw a picture from what I had said that he thought might make sense for everyone else! Nobody else commented or said anything.
What was I expecting? “Ah, yes, God – lets be changed by God, then all the issues we are hoping to address with children, young people and families will be sorted!”
I don’t know. What I do know though is that I am glad I said it. I do believe in change, I believe in transformation! We are encouraged to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) and we are encouraged to live out our lives as new creations, you can’t be changed much more than being brought from death to life! (2 Corinthians 5:17) . Sometimes I back down or don’t just say it as it is. I might run the risk of being considered very odd, but – how else does authentic and lasting change come in our lives expect through the renewing work of the Holy Spirit. It is more than a “theory” of change – it is the the litmus test of the reality of our life with God.
Are we being changed? Are we becoming more like Jesus?
I often wonder if I am going backwards in this process – the longer I have been a Christian the more I think I need to be changed so much more than I have been already . . . it feels as if God has just begun scratching the surface of my life, with making me more like Jesus. What I do know is that part of being an authentic Christian is not shying away from stating things plainly in every context we might find ourselves in. We need to have confidence, not in ourselves but in the amazing God who we worship.
I want to be changed, but also to BE part of the change I long to see . . . working alongside those who are Christians and those who are not, those who don’t care about God, those who don’t know about God, those who have never given God a second thought.
If the only thing that happened following that meeting was that one person went away and thought – “God changes stuff? Really?” Maybe a small seed of change has been sown . . . and they may have joined me – joined us on this exciting journey of life with Christ!