Mar 15, 2023


“Welcome to SXSW. Enjoy the festival. Don’t move here!”

I’ve seen that message so many times on social media posts this past week, in one form or another. At first it elicits a chuckle. As Austinites, we love sharing our city with visitors. We love it when people discover how ‘weird’ we keep the ATX metroplex, how beautiful the Barton Creek Greenbelt is, how nice it is to have lakes and rivers running through our communities, and how festive our music scene can be. But, once they have experienced it, we want all of those visitors to go back home. Our city and metroplex has grown and changed so much in the last decades, and it keeps changing into someplace we didn’t intend it to be.

I wonder if congregations sometimes embrace the same attitude. We want people to visit. We love it when someone new discovers our community, hears our wonderful music in worship, finds a voice of good news that resonates with their own faith and conscience, and when they decide to stay and join us in our discipleship and service. But are we also willing to be changed by them? When new people move into a community, when new people join a congregation, inevitably they will change the gathering in unforeseen and unanticipated ways. We can’t welcome new friends into our communities, in our congregation, and then tell them not to change who we are and who we will become!

But the reality is that God created us to grow and change – in our personal lives, in our communities, in our congregation. Our world moves too quickly, and technology changes too fast, and things like transportation and banking and education are not at all what they were a decade or two ago. Without changing and growing, we soon become obsolete, irrelevant, old-fashioned. We know the truth of the adage, “the only constant is change.” God calls us into the future, but God does not demand we go there alone. God will be with us, every step of the way.


Pastor Jack