An online magazine for pastors and church leaders.

For this month’s Sunday| Mag articles, we asked some of our favorite writers this one question: What’s one thing you’ve been learning all year long that you’d like to share with Sunday| Mag’s readers? In this article, Chad Jarnagin talks about how change has been the key to keeping effective in ministry.


Over the past few years, I have continued to experience new awakenings within the process of leading worship/liturgy. But before these years of enlightenment, I had gone through a course of several years operating on cruise control.

Some might think: Surely it isn’t possible to be actively leading music, worship, prayer, or teaching every Sunday and not be learning as you prepare. However, I am confessing that there were at least 3-4 years where I didn?t feel like I was growing musically, academically, or spiritually?all while being on a church staff with ?pastor? in my title.

I have a few guesses as to how I ended up in that state of indifference. Good performers don?t just perform well ?on stage?. The good ones are even better actors off stage. This is a sad reality that has no place in the church, yet it?s far too common.

So how do we keep this from being the norm?

Change. Don?t be afraid to change. Many of us fear change on some level. We are wired to try controlling everything within our grasp in an effort to seek safety or have a sense of normality. Unfortunately, that false sense of control and potential safety?is a true illusion. Obviously, certain routines are meant to assist with the healthy rhythms in our lives. But when we find ourselves indifferent, ineffective, or in a funky pattern of ?meh?, it?s time for a change.[quote]When we find ourselves indifferent, ineffective, or in a funky pattern of ?meh?, it?s time for a change.[/quote]

At this time of year, many of us are attempting some form of new routines or new habits. Even if you are a resolution hater it?s worth deciding on change.

Think of it like a dead lawn. Aerating soil may be overlooked when trying to restore a lawn, but is vital to bring it back to health. It improves drainage and reduces puddles formation.?You have to turn over and change the soil in order for the health to return.

It is a new year full of new possibilities, right? So, you may be asking, ?Where can I begin to change?? I?ve made a list of some practical (and some not so practical) ways to change up your rhythms.

Here are a few things you may want to change:

  • The types of songs you lead.
  • Where you find your songs.
  • Incorporating a new technology (or lessening your use).
  • If you aren?t writing songs, attempting to write.
  • Reading different things.
  • Learning a new instrument.
  • Researching new/old ways of worship practices. There is a lot to learn from the past.
  • Changing your responsibilities. Maybe more (or less).
  • Your job.

I do believe that everything is spiritual when we?see?clearly enough to?determine our level of sacramental awareness. That awareness helps us to be present in each moment instead of looking ahead or dwelling in a past memory. Being fully present in each moment will give us heightened sensitivity for everything from choosing songs for the weekend to watching our kids play on the playground.

A few years ago, I found myself in a place of apathy and indifference. My spiritual tank wasn?t on empty, but it was full of the wrong type of fuel. I began to spend the following years removing and replacing that fuel. It was full of non-essential components, toxins, and sludge. I felt 80 lbs heavier. Pay attention to discontentment.[quote]Pay attention to discontentment.[/quote]

I began leaning into the writing of Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton. I finally began reading Scripture in a new light. God used contemplative prayer and slowing my pace to begin a new work in me. The more I walked into new practices, I realized how ancient these practices were and there I found a peace and release that I had not experienced before. That kind of change has changed me forever.[quote]Do something to change your course and a new perspective will inevitably come.[/quote]

So,?don?t be afraid to change.?Had I not begun to change (which doesn?t happen instantaneously), I would have continued down a dark, jaded, lifeless path of cultural Christianity. Are you stuck? Are you reading this saying to yourself, ?What the ^#%$ is he talking about?? There is good news: do something to change your course and a new perspective will inevitably come. Practice something that you have never practiced. Read something you have never read. Go somewhere you have never been. What you find may surprise you.



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