By Michael C. Mack
Some maxims should never be uttered again, especially by Christian leaders. Like this one:
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
I own an old dog, a black Lab named Lainey, and she still is learning new tricks. I figured she was simply smarter than the average dog. My vet, however, told me all older dogs can continue to learn, though it may take more work.
Like Lainey, we as individuals and the body of Christ, regardless of age, have the capability to learn new things, be transformed, and do more of what God created us to do. One of Satan’s oldest tricks is to make us believe we are too old or have too many challenges to accomplish more for God. If the enemy had his way, fear of failure or an obsession with security would keep us from trying anything new.
Let this issue be a reminder: You, the ministry you lead, and your church, regardless of how long you’ve been around or what your past looks like, have a mission, and a finish line is in front of you. So, as Paul reminds us, keep running the race!
Christian Standard is 151 years old, and look at us now! Jerry Harris and I believe God has a vibrant mission and future for this “old dog.” We will continue to capture the power that comes from our unity to provide our churches with innovative and trustworthy ideas and resources for years to come. You’ll see many of those ideas and resources in this issue.
This month, we feature the story of a turnaround church in Canton, Ohio, that was founded in 1855. Under the leadership of renowned minister P. H. Welshimer, First Christian was at one time considered the largest church in the United States. Yet, as a Canton newspaper put it, the church “has had more ups and downs than a Cedar Point roller coaster” in recent years. Current lead pastor Ryan Rasmussen tells how he and the church have taken several leaps of faith, and he shares the commitments it takes to turn the corner.
We also tell the story of Eastpoint Christian Church in Portland, Maine, a relatively young church that has worked through many challenges and has taken many chances. I think their story will inspire you.
We include articles in this issue to help you and your church prepare for a new ministry season and new opportunities this fall. Our writers show how you can establish, communicate, and lead your church through your core values; how to measure outputs rather than inputs in ministry; how to evaluate staff members wisely; and, as a continuation from last month’s issue, where we are heading as a movement.
My prayer is that this issue will challenge you to do what my old dog can’t do—to look ahead with hope and trust in God: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:18, 19).
Michael C. Mack is editor of Christian Standard.