Developing?Disciples: Change: Preparing spiritually

Peppy DuTart, pastor of Crossroads Community Church, located in a rapidly growing Southern suburban community, deals with many families who are negotiating change. In fact, in his congregation of more than 500, 22 new babies were born last year alone. He also ministers to a large number of blended families, college students, young marrieds, and widowed people. Some have called Crossroads a “hospital church” because it draws so many Christians, old and new, who are healing from tough changes in their lives. DuTart says that:

“Most people who are wounded as a result of change come to church for an instant cure. We try to see change as something God allows in order to produce spiritual growth. Therefore, whether or not healing is instantaneous, we let people know we’re in it with them over the long haul and desire to provide the encouragement they need.”

Spiritually, one can grow from change by remembering:

1) God is always in control. He knows about the change. I’m not sure that he causes it as much as he allows it to shape us.

2) God will not let change destroy us. He loves us too much for that.

3) Change, painful and provocative alike, can be used by God to prepare us for ministry.

4) One can grow spiritually through the change process, and, as DuTart points out, others can grow spiritually by being encouragers to those who are dealing with change in their lives.

In each of the four scenarios described above, it is helpful to take action in order to get the full benefit of the change. Think of this as spiritual exercise. If you have ever done regular exercise to lose weight or as part of physical therapy, you know that it is often painful and you will do anything to avoid it. However, those who persevere with the action find themselves stronger, more flexible, and more alive than ever before. So consider the following spiritual actions in the midst of change:

Attend church more often, not less. Be there, as we say in the South, “every time the door opens.” I have two women friends who were dealing with abandonment by their husbands around the same time. One woman began to “sleep in” on Sunday mornings. She was exhausted and too tired “to deal with people,” and promised to “get back into the swing” when she felt better. Well, it is five years and one nervous breakdown later, and she never did. My other friend stayed in church. Sometimes she would sit there and cry. Other times she just sat with her eyes closed and listened. But she was there. Five years later, she is healthy, remarried, and spiritually stronger. You have to be there to get the benefits. Psalm 122:1 simply says: “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.”

Ask for prayer and seek out a prayer partner. During a particularly tough time in my spiritual life, I asked for prayer from groups in four states. Really. I didn’t give my entire pitiful story to strangers, but I did put the word out that times were tough and I needed prayer for spiritual protection – and I tell you that it made all the difference.

According to an article in the January 1998 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, hundreds of medical doctors around the country now routinely pray with their patients, and it makes an enormous physical and spiritual difference. Interestingly, the doctors who seem to be reaching out with prayer are those in oncology and cardiology. Ephesians 5:25 urges us to “walk by the spirit” and incorporate prayer into our daily lives.

Finally, specifically ask God what he wants you to do or learn from this season of change. I have found it helpful to begin such prayers by simply saying, “Father, show me what you want me to do,” or “Lord, help me to see your purpose in this situation.”

Although I know that God can, and does, give us messages, messengers, and dreams in which he provides a call to action or an answer, most of the time I realize that God gives us a brain to make decisions. However, I do believe that in times of change, God uses experiences and even pain to direct us and teach us. I find myself saying, “God showed me how to _____ (listen, act, care – fill in the blank) through this experience.” Matthew 7:7 says it perfectly: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”


Change will come; in fact, it is always coming if one chooses to experience the adventure of parenting. Some change is natural, and some change seems to be fed by worldly values and vices.

Emotionally, socially and spiritually, we can learn to negotiate changes and grow stronger, and, yes, even wiser as the result of change. If, indeed, life is a river to be traveled spiritually, emotionally and socially, then one should expect some white water, several sharp turns, a few boulders, rocks, a measure of slime on the rocks, and changes in water depth and temperature. That’s change. That’s life. Wouldn’t it be a dull journey any other way?