Change Sucks

It’s true.  Change Sucks.  Ask some of the members of The Church At Carrollton, who are none too happy about change.

Since Pastor Greg Drake came five years ago, some things have changed.  As noted in a news story, some people are ticked.  Royally ticked, actually.

Here are the things cited that have changed:

1.  The church name (it used to be Abilene Baptist Church)

2.  No more ‘hymn book singing’

3.  Removal of the piano and organ

4.  Printed words to songs are now “replaced by a screen”

5.  Several pews were removed

6.  Some stained glass was partially covered.

7.  Shut down Sunday School classes (these classes met for SS, then left before the service started)

8.  Walking away from the SBC

The result?  A lawsuit in county court questioning the legal ownership of the church entity, going back to the original deed in 1876.

Here’s the premise:  since the church changed it’s name this year, and is no longer operating under the Abiline Baptist name any longer, the 1876 deed that grated the land to “Abilene Baptist” has been revoked since the new entity is no longer using it for the said purpose of the deed (again, signed in 1876).

One of the protesters is quoted in the article:

“I just feel like the Lord wanted that to be Abilene Baptist Church, or otherwise he wouldn’t instill in these men back in the 1800s to put that in the deed…The said purposes has got to be Abilene Baptist Church. To me, it’s clear, the purposes are your ministries of the Baptist Church because it states that in the deed.”

This guy’s also more than a little ticked that he’s no longer a deacon:

“I just had a feeling from the Lord that it wasn’t supposed to be changed, and that’s when [Pastor Drake] told me that he removed me as a deacon. My dad was a deacon there, and I voted for all the former deacons because I felt like they wouldn’t want the name changed.”

After all, his dad WAS a deacon.

But wait… there’s more!

Not long after the civil suit was filed, the church was called to defend against allegations in Carroll County Magistrate Court that the Rev. Drake had been removing flags from the graves of Civil War veterans buried in the church cemetery.

Read more:Times-Georgian – Controversy at church where change has alienated some been embraced by others


All I can say is… change sucks.

This is one of the more outrageous church conflicts that I’ve seen recently… but you know… things like this happen all the time.  They’re just not written about in the local newspaper (thankfully).

I hope that I don’t become like this when I’m older.

I hope that if/when I walk away from a church and it’s leadership, it’s about something much more important that hymnbooks, pews, stained glass and the like.

I pray that I don’t end up a bitter, angry, hopeless man as I get older.






  • Dee Lauderdale December 29, 2011 Reply

    Same old complaints, no piano, pews or hymnals. But the lawsuit over the deed is a new twist.

  • steve miller December 29, 2011 Reply

    I hear they also removed the horse hitching post.

    I agree change sucks in the church, the only thing that sucks worse is lack of change in the church.

  • Brian December 29, 2011 Reply

    Just plain flat sad.

  • Phillip H December 29, 2011 Reply

    I had an experience involving change about 7 years ago that drove me away from the ministry. I have regretted leaving and after dealing with a deep depression over the issues I am currently seeking God’s will regarding pastoral ministry again. I’ll share my story in an attempt to communicate the pain that is involved when a pastor, a called man of God, sincerely is acting within his spiritual convictions to make changes that need to be made. But also to communicate that even though change sucks it can be accomplished with time and love.

    It was my first, and subsequently only, pastoral experience after leaving everything that I had known in life to follow God’s calling to a new vocation. I uprooted my family from a comfortable income and went back to college in my 30’s and accepted a position as pastor of a 150 year old rural congregation. The name of the church is not important except that it was “blank” Baptist Church Number 2. This particular church had also been known for going through several splits, which should have been a red flag for me from the beginning. But the #2 bothered me because I felt that it portrayed the church in a negative light to the growing community. It was confusing. After all, the other church by the same name sans #2, had been in the same association but was now in a neighboring one. Something had to be done.

    After meeting with the deacons and presenting my convictions, they agreed that the #2 should be dropped so as to defeat any negative connotations to the community. Of course, a business meeting was held, and the congregation voted to drop the #2. But unfortunately, some of the membership did not attend the meeting and was unable to cast their vote. The backlash of threats that I received was enough to drive me away and into a state of depression. I had never seen a group of “Christian” people act out in that way.

    But even after all that, I wrestle with my calling still today. I want desperately to minister to people with the love of Jesus. So if you know of anyone looking for a pastor who has been weathered by life and knows how to relate, send them my name.

    • A. Amos Love December 29, 2011 Reply

      Phillipe H

      Sorry for the pain, the depression, been there… And…
      ALL things do work together for good, for those who love God…

      Have you ever wondered – Why… In the Bible…

      NOT one “Disciple of Christ” was called
      to be a “Pastor/Reverend” leading a church?

      And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
      them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
      and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
      John 10:16

      One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice

      {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  • Joe December 29, 2011 Reply

    You WILL be like that when you get older. A blended music service has 50% of the people upset ALL of the time. One of the more successful churches in the future will be those who cater to empty nesters and senior citizens, the fastest growing segment of our population.

    • Todd Rhoades December 29, 2011 Reply

      You know, Joe… I really DON’T think I will. I pray I’m not.

  • Lew December 29, 2011 Reply

    What a cliche

  • Michael December 29, 2011 Reply

    I wish I could be surprised. In fact except for the lawsuit I could have predicted everything that would have happened based on the changes that were made.

    SBC churches and many others need a good healthy dose of Hebrews 13:17.

  • Peter December 29, 2011 Reply

    Maybe the change was introduced too fast and too much? I’ve seen that kind of change done badly in places.

    Honestly, you have to wonder it it’s not better to have some group plant a new church in your town and let the old ones die out… Maybe that’s easier on everyone.

    • Eric (Mad Pastor) December 29, 2011 Reply


      Old churches are dying all the time. But they’re not dying because people are dying. People die in every church. Old churches are dying because they don’t allow new people to come in and be a part of the ministry. In other words, they don’t let new people come in and do new things.

      I am convinced after 7 years of being a pastor that some people would rather see their church shut down and close rather than change.I’ve seen it happen.

      You do have a good point re: too much and too fast. People need to be (re)educated as to the true purpose of the Church and then hopefully be inspired to carry out that mission as it applies to their particular ministry. That is a big part of our job as pastors.

      It sounds like this pastor may have done too much too fast and the people feel as if “their” church has been hijacked. Ministry is unfortunately, a slow process and for those of us in church leadership it’s difficult to have a dream of becoming a pastor and then putting that dream on hold because people are guarding their personal investment in the church and not the commission on which Christ has sent the church.

      Stories like this make me sad because, reading between the lines, I see people fighting to keep “their” church and the purpose of the church is lost. Who would want to attend this church? “Come join us and help us fight our pastor… and don’t forget to pitch in for the offering.” That’s not to say the pastor may be doing the same thing. Typically our complaints against others apply to ourselves just as well.

      How is Christ being exalted in anyone’s behavior or motives? It that question was honestly addressed in this situation by those involved, I wonder how this story might change.

      • Peter December 29, 2011 Reply

        I also wonder, Eric, if I’d stay in a church that left its denomination. I might not. That, to me, is too far.

        The man who was removed as a deacon for asking questions… that’s a real red flag to me…

      • Eric (Mad Pastor) December 29, 2011 Reply

        Very good points. The deacon thing bothered me. I’m not part of a denomination where the pastor can “undeacon” someone. I’d like to know more about that. (No intentions at my own church 🙂 )

        I am part of a denomination (PCUSA) where a lot of churches are leaving the denomination. It is, in my observation, a case to case thing. Some churches leave because they are unwilling to get along. Some churches leave under good conditions and leave with good relationships intact. I think when the latter happens it’s because both parties are doing what is best for the overall mission of the “Church.” We can worship the same God with different visions.

  • Midnight Watch December 29, 2011 Reply

    So a pastor comes in and launches a radical conversion to McChurch, causing upheaval and divisions, and those who are bold enough to stand against it are “bitter, angry and hopeless”? You so casually disrespect and disregard the elders who represent multi-generational membership. So tradition is always antiquated? Clearly the consensus opinion of post-moderns such as yourself is that the culture should determine how the church operates on every level, and those who have nothing new/relevant/hip to contribute, or those who just won’t conform, should be eliminated. You know what really sucks, Todd (aside from an influential, respected leader within the Christian community using such an inappropriate dysphemism)? It’s the fact that much of the church has left its first love, and plays the harlot with this world system. It’s not just the pianos and hymnals that are held with such contempt and treated with such haughty derision, it’s also the gospel. It was never the church’s place to conform itself or the living and powerful word of God to this world, or to incorporate extra-biblical materials for a sermon series, or to turn a worship service into a stadium rock concert, in order to attract unbelievers. Attracting unbelievers is the work of the Holy Spirit. How arrogant, shameful, and blasphemous that the ‘church’ should determine to undermine this work. The work of the church is to proclaim the gospel and edify the saints, or at least it was. Too bad this is no longer en vogue.

    • NC Dynamite December 30, 2011 Reply

      @Midnight – They (and you and me) are hopeless when they CARE about CRAP. Crap never saved anybody, set anybody free, and crap isnt going to die and return for anybody. Crap is useless, and concern for crap is nauseating.

    • Michael J Teston January 1, 2012 Reply

      The reality is that at the core of church is transformation and change. Jesus came to change us. I grew up in an older tradition than any of this nonsense. These battles around “change” in order to bridge the gap and start conversations that lead to transformation among the newest generations are being fought against. I am keenly a part of these challenges currently in places once known as church. It has exposed the shallow years of churchiness without a discipleship that shapes the character of the true people of God. It’s been embarrassing and frankly evil and malicious. These congregations have been exposed as fraudulent and many of them are the chaplained “greatest” generation of years past who believe they’re the only generation that matters and leaders and equippers are there only to take care of their perceived needs. Worse, these negative belly aches are killing any chance authentic communities of faith of of making a case for faith in Christ. They’re killing the franchise once known as the Church.

  • John January 2, 2012 Reply

    Back to Midnight…you hit the nail on the head! And for these ‘pastors’ who make all these changes…when you ignore and exclude and dishonor the senior adults in the church you are not only being unscriptural–you are being highly haughty. How I wish that God Himself would enter the back of our ‘worship centers’, walk the aisle, approach the ‘pastor’ and ask why he is not shepherding His flock. Pastors have become CEO’s. A ‘Come To Jesus’ meeting is in order for these pastors who have confused ‘change’ with ‘leadership’and think we don’t know the difference. God help us. Our church was put through many of the changes listed in this story…got rid of the organ, we don’t use hymnals, we are not a ‘church’, we are a ‘faith family’, we don’t have Sunday School, we have ‘growth groups’, the dress code has dressed down–we even have a pajama wearing Sunday or two a year; preaching from an iPad has replaced preaching from the Bible (as a book); the music is so loud one cannot hear ones own self sing; we no longer have Sunday Night services; if one is not in their thirties, they don’t exist anymore; widows are not taken care of in our church; business meetings have been moved from monthly to quarterly, and we cannot ask questions in a meeting; our debt has quadrupled; our new pastor calls our teenagers ‘weasles’ from the pulpit thinking that makes him cool; and trips to foreign lands to paint a wall are called ‘mission trips’. God help us.

  • Kathleen January 4, 2012 Reply

    Yep, change sucks. But, as a pastor’s wife dealing with change-the-pastor-so-we-can-remake-the-church-in-our-own-image, the Bride, the pastor, and – wait, that’s all of us, then – desperately need humility. Our personal saga is only two months old, but it’s an old, old story that is covered over and rewritten with a sickening rapidity. I read Psalm 126 to my children one morning, after explaining to them how much we want them to love God’s church. (We, of course, are secretly struggling with wanting to hurt her right now.) The last verse says “Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” Our challenge as ministers is to be willing to sow again, and somehow count it all joy.

  • Garrick D. Conner January 12, 2012 Reply


    I totally understand where you’re coming from. Your comment reminds me of one of my favorite lines in ‘Transformational Church’: “Churches do not change until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” (Stetzer & Rainer)

    I used to think that senior adults would understand the need for adaptive methodologies — particularly when it’s often their own children and grandchildren who are leaving the church. Unfortunately, that appears to be a drastic misconception. And, as you said, this problem is not one limited to our senior adults. This speaks to a church culture characterized more by protection of turf/territory than by evangelism and discipleship.

  • Rod Gauthier January 22, 2012 Reply

    Hey Todd, Thanks for all the insightful and challenging posts that you write. I am challenged in my ministry and in my personal life by many of them. Some of the topics make me scratch my head and wonder, not at your thoughts, but at the place to which followers of Jesus will go to to defend their positions. This is the second post in the last two days where the comments have lacked grace and love. For those who post on your blogs, here is a what Jesus would say, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Keep the challenging blogs coming, Todd, it makes me think and challenges my status quo.

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  • Brian October 26, 2014 Reply

    Religion rules the western world, and not in a good way. Self righteous, is the norm. When kingdom change comes, yes kingdom change, religion gets very ugly and shows itself in many forms. My family and I have left the business of Church, buildings called a church, rather than we ARE the church for the REAL deal in HIM. It is a journey, renewing the mind day by day, taking up my cross each day, being a light to all, walking in love. All the fruits of the spirit continue to grow as he continues to guide by HIS spirit. This will ALL make no sense if one is not born again. Seek HIS kingdom first and ALL HIS righteousness. My pray is that we have eyes to see what we can not see, and ears to hear what we can not hear. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

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