As a child, one of my fondest memories is going to West Coast Video as a family and walking slowly through the store, specifically along the wall where the “New Releases” were, looking for a movie to rent. We would each pick up a few of the boxes, read the back, then debate amongst ourselves to decide on what we would watch that evening.
Last night, my sons wanted to have family movie night. We turned on the Apple TV, flipped through some choices, read some descriptions, selected, and rented a movie from our sofa. We were watching the movie is less time than it used to take all of us to cross the parking lot into the video store.
I know that my kids memories of “family movie night” will be different than mine, but they will be great memories none-the-less. My father and grandfather probably had different “movie night” experiences than I did, and before there were movies, they had “something-else night”.
I don’t particularly mourn the loss of Blockbuster or any of the other video stores that have gone the way of the buffalo, but I do often find myself wanting to hold on to the past. We are comfortable with our memories, and generally remember things with more joy and happiness than they actually had. We tend to elevate our memories, build a scaffold around them, and hold them in such high regard that it feels like nothing new can come close to them.
We are comfortable in our current church family. We have friends that we like. We feel useful and involved. So the prospect of changing all of that and helping to plant a new church seems… uncomfortable. In our minds, there is no way that a new church in a new location with a new group of people can come close to the experience we have had in our current situation.
One aspect of living in reality is realizing that things change. Often for the better, sometimes for the worse, but inevitably, things change. There is nothing wrong with holding on to fond memories, but when those memories become an unreasonable, unattainable litmus test, they can actually hold us back from experiencing the newness that God has for us. If things aren’t changing, they aren’t growing, and there’s a name for things that aren’t growing. Dead.
If God leads, we need to be willing to follow. Into uncomfortable places, places we may have never wanted to go. But the reality is that change is not something to fear. West Coast Video and Blockbuster went out of business because people found a better way to find movies to watch. And while letting go of the experience that I used to enjoy is a little sad, honestly, I hadn’t been inside a video store for years, even before they closed. The new movie rental experience is really quite nice.
God is blessing us in our church, but that’s not a reason to stay stagnant. If anything, it’s a reason to pursue God’s leading into new experiences, whether that means planting new churches, stepping out into ministry, or joining a Pastorate. New memories will be made, and while it might seem now like they can’t compare with memories of the past, give it some time. But don’t get too comfortable, there will always be a new way to rent movies.