Adapt & Change Or Die

One thing I enjoy most in life is surfing. I love being in the water, catching waves, riding waves, wishing I was better at riding waves, and everything that goes along with surfing. I not only enjoy surfing but watching others surf, reading about surfing, and looking at surf pictures. One of the best ways to do that is through Surfer Magazine. It is a great publication and I personally have been a subscriber for about the last 15 years. Surfer Magazine has been in print since 1960 and is enjoyed by many, many surfers and is known as “the bible of the sport.” That is why it was such a shock and surprise to receive my March 2017 edition with some extra information on the cover. The issue arrived with a letter to all their subscribers informing us that the magazine in our hands would be the last printed edition of the magazine. From this point forward they will only produce digital copies of their magazines.


Surfer magazine realized they were losing money and could not sustain their business in the midst of the changing times. They had to make the decision to change with the times or cease to exist. They were forced to change their methods of distribution so they could remain in business. The magazine assured us they would still produce the same wonderful content, without changing their message or mission, they just needed to change the way in which they delivered it to their readers.


Richard Branson explains this thinking in his quote “Every success story is a tale of constant adaption, revision and change. A company that stands still will soon be forgotten.”


This wisdom is clearly seen in the case of large companies that are now forgotten. RadioShack, a once dominant company is no longer in business because they failed to change and became less relevant. They were completely left behind by newer up and coming competitors that were more in tune with the market and were willing to do what it takes to reach people in today’s society.


Change can be shocking. I was definitely not expecting the change with Surfer Magazine at all. However, it did get me thinking. If companies need to adapt and change with the times to stay effective what can we as the church do to adapt and stay effective as well?


We have all heard the statistics and seen the decrease in churches and church attendance in recent years. Churches all over the country are closing their doors like crazy. But, here is what is actually happening. The world is changing and churches unable to change and keep up are not lasting. The Church is not dying, churches unable to change their methods are.


Methods need to change, NOT message

Change is not easy in any way. But one of the biggest concerns church people have is that when change happens we are giving in to godless culture and our message is changing. Methods and message are not the same.


Surfer Magazine is dedicated to producing high quality images and stories and that will not change. The magazine will continue to produce the exact same content, their message will not change. However, the METHOD of distribution will change.


The truths in the Bible do NOT need to change, be watered down, or omitted. People are in desperate need of a Savior. That means people need us to be real about sin, they need us to be honest about their condition and standing with God, and they need us to be unashamed about the hope that is found in Jesus.


All of that stays exactly the same. But how it is distributed (method) NEEDS to change.


We need to die to self for the sake of the mission

Admittedly, the editor of Surfer Magazine loves holding an actual paper copy of the magazine in his hands. He says that he often sits in the archive room just flipping through old issues and reliving the past. But, he knows that if his desires for what he enjoys take priority over what will be effective the company will cease to exist.


Just like the editor, you might not like some of the methods that need to be taken. You may be very attached to the old methods and actually prefer them. But you need to understand that if your desires for what you enjoy take priority over what will be effective the church will not flourish and will run the risk of dying. That is why we are the ones that need to die to ourselves in order for the mission to live.


We, as Christ’s ambassadors, have been given the greatest mission in the world in Matthew 28:19. We have been called to reach people for Jesus and teach them about Him. If that is our calling then we desperately need to figure out a way to change and adapt to reach our culture. The population is only rising while the number of churches is decreasing, we need to die to ourselves for the sake of the mission.


We need to think like Surfer Magazine about how we can stay in business. As much as I love surfing I believe that our calling in Christ is WAY more important and pressing of a message to get out to the world than Surfer Magazine.



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