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Church Alive

The following was written in support of Church Alive, a focus of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, that explores the meaning and possibilities of awakening to the spiritual basis and impact of Church.

Let our church change

From the May 2, 2011 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


Why does change seem to be so hard?

After all, Christ Jesus was the world’s all-time biggest change-agent. He stirred things up as he transformed the world! Mary Baker Eddy’s life followed a similar track.

What’s keeping us from embracing change like they did?

Change is happening, of course. Every Christian Science healing proves we’ve dropped some limiting material concept for a spiritual one. Change and healing go together.

I’d like to share a few thoughts about what misconceptions might be slowing us down:

Nothing needs changing. Things are perfect. Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it” ( Science and Health, p. 2). Thinking that the human sense of life is ever perfect or unchanging isn’t scientific; it’s delusional (and destructive). A jolting dose of self-awareness and pain can wake us up from this dream and show us we’ve got some growing and changing to do. Seeing that the status quo no longer works is often the first step to healing.

Change is needed, but prohibited. Really? How could that be if we really consider this statement: “Perfection underlies reality. Without perfection, nothing is wholly real. All things will continue to disappear, until perfection appears and reality is reached” (Science and Health, p. 353). Another way of putting that is that all “things” will change until we reach the full understanding of reality.

So, can we take a fresh new look at some things we’ve always thought (or been told) are “off limits”? No problem is “God-created” and therefore “off limits.” Can anything take the place of praying over issues for ourselves? Really deeply, quietly, sincerely listening to divine Mind? Something we’ve believed to be true all our life may be only someone else’s point of view, accumulated and passed along by parents, friends, Sunday School teachers, practitioners, or even articles we’ve read. Christ Jesus and Mary Baker Eddy broke from tradition, humbly turned in prayer to the divine Mind, and got fresh views. We can, too. After all, we have that same divine Mind to turn to today.

People will never accept much change. Can we make real change and stay strong and unified as a church? Or will change weaken us? Maybe part of the answer is in how we see unity. If we think of unity as mainly human beings getting along, change could be a threat. I think we can see unity differently—as a spiritual fact about our church, a fact we increasingly demonstrate instead of a human state of affairs we try to manage. Spiritual unity and progress are partners, not opponents.

Perhaps the more relevant question is: Can we function as a unified and effective church without continual, progressive change, without adapting and responding to the world today?

We can choose. We can view church as a political institution and treat progress and change as threats—this has had limited success throughout history, and it can really bog us down. Or, we can take a more spiritual approach, view our church body and structure spiritually, and see progress and ongoing change as essential to, and evidence of, the demonstration of our church’s vitality and integrity. Sure, this has to be proved. But proving our prayers is, after all, what our church stands for.

A few years ago I was helping The Christian Science Monitor progress through some monumental changes. I was a Trustee of The Christian Science Publishing Society at the time and a colleague stated (referring to the Monitor), “His life is in him.” He was quoting from Paul’s prayers for Eutychus, who had fallen down from a high loft and died. Paul’s prayer ultimately resulted in raising the man from the dead (see Acts 20). Despite any appearances to the contrary, our Church, as “the structure of Truth and Love” (Science and Health, p. 583), has life in it today. And relevance. And flexibility. The human institution representing this divine reality will show increasing proof of its healing and saving power as we let go of rigid, outdated views of church and let it change. 


Don Adams is a Christian Science practitioner in Sugar Land, Texas. 

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