Our church has had to reinvent herself a few times. We began as a Charismatic collection of Holy Rollers from Oral Roberts University, but after a few years realized that the only people drawn to our community were other hair-sprayed hallows looking to roll. So we morphed into a new kind of church, modeled after Willow Creek in Illinois. We embraced the seeker-sensitive movement and began seeing more and more people surrender their lives to Christ. Our church grew rapidly. But after a time, we realized our culture had surpassed the model of ministry to which we had become accustomed. Our concern for reaching the world forced us to change yet again into a hands-on, experiential model of ministry known then as the Emerging Church. We experienced a change in leadership, and the emerging church movement at large derailed, so our church changed again to become a more orthodox, holistic congregation with an emphasis on imagination, participation, authenticity and community. A decade later, we’ve changed again and again, including redefining our mission from “leading all people in full life development” to “shadowing God, building the church, and healing the world.”

Let’s be clear: church has to change. Not with one big change, accomplishing everything we’ll ever need in one fell swoop, but with a thousand incremental changes. We need to stay light on our feet. Responsive. Nimble. Because the world is not the same as it was even four years ago.

The church of the future will take the shifting pace of culture in stride—she will meet the shifts with shifts of her own, not in belief but in behavior, maintaining her commitment to Jesus Christ while also maintaining her cooperation with God to heal the world.

Adapted from Then. Now. Next.: A Biblical vision of the church, the kingdom, and the future.