I've said this many times before on this blog: pastors don't like change either. We like implementing change. But, we don't like change implemented on us. No one does. Change is … different. Even if it is for the better, it takes time to adjust; to mourn and move on; to accept.

People who say, “I love change” are only telling you half the truth. Yes, they love change – but like I said, only when they're the one making the changes. It's easy and fun when you're changing policies and things around. It's much easier if you're the dumper than the dumpee in a relationship.

Those people who claim to “love change” are the same ones who threaten to boycott Facebook every time Facebook implements a change.

Now, about a week ago Madden 13 came out. Here's a (sad) fact: I've bought every single Madden game since it came out I think in like 90, 91. And before that was the Joe Montana football games, as well as Tecmo Bowl.

I really, really, really debated if I wanted to get Madden this year. I mean, did I need another distraction in my life? Did I need something else that will enable me to procrastinate? After a week of discernment, the answer was, “YES.”

Now, I quit playing Madden online. It's too much of a hassle planning to play with people I know, because most of them live in Hawaii, and the time zone difference makes it hard to coordinate. Many online are not gracious losers (or winners for that matter). I don't need my PS3 inbox to be flooded with trash talk of the 4th grade level.

So, my heart and joy in Madden lied within the Franchise mode. I loved it. I loved tweaking things around – like the roster. Making trades. Drafting. Cutting. Signing free agents. I also, always, loved creating myself and putting me on the Redskins roster. Sometimes as a Quarterback, sometimes as a receiver. I don't make a super me – where all my attributes and skills are at a 99 rating (the maximum). But I take an above average player and copy their attributes (say, take a Jay Cutler and copy his ratings for me). Or, I'd take Tom Brady's ratings and use them for me as a quarterback. But to offset that unfairness, I trade away my top players on offense for rookies of the same position.

And while I'm doing all this mundane stuff on the franchise mode, my mind wanders off thinking about upcoming meetings, recent interactions, the previous meetings, and other church business.

So, I was looking forward to diving into the franchise mode again. I also found out that I can actually upload my face on to my EAsports account and have it downloaded into Madden and actually “be” in the game. “Hot dog!” I thought. This was, indeed, going to be awesome. So I immediately went online and logged onto my EAsports account and started creating away.

Here's the result:

Alright. That works for me, I thought. And started creating myself only to disturbingly discover that the franchise mode that I knew and loved was no longer an option. Instead was this thing called “Connected Career” mode.

I can't used my updated roster for my franchise. If I want to use me, I have to basically go through the Superstar mode from previous Madden.

I sat there, stunned. And annoyed. I didn't know what to do. I never liked the career/superstar mode. I liked my franchise mode. You can't edit players anymore on the “franchise” mode (I have a thing with numbers. If I trade for Troy Polamalu, I need, NEED, him to be #43 on the Redskins as well. If someone already on the Redskins is 43, in previous Maddens, you can edit their numbers. In 13? Not so much). And I kept thinking, what was the point of this? Why did they do this? Why did they get rid of the franchise mode?

And, of course, I'm stuck with the game. Once opened, you can only exchange for the same title. So I have to learn to adapt and find ways to play Madden. And, dangit, after dropping $64 on Madden, I will learn to love it.

Now, there are changes that need to be made within our church.

Then, there are changes that I want to make – just because it suits my leadership and personality better.

But the Madden 13 was a rude awakening about implementing change, whether out of necessity or for sanity's sake. Here I am, googling on why EA would make such a change, without any luck. Many are also complaining and petitioning EA to figure out ways to add in a patch for people to download to restore the franchise mode as we love it- which if possible, would be cool and appreciated.

I was affirmed in my belief, nobody really likes change. We all love implementing change.

Change also needs to be communicated. We need to let people know what is changing, why it's changing and what is staying the same.

And, sometimes, it takes time. Other times, it needs time. A lot of us pastors see something and we want to make a change right here, right now. We can end up being dismissive of things: “You guys do it that way? Really? No. We're doing it this way from now.” It helps to know why things were done a certain way before uprooting everything. Communication is vital. In our discussions, we can also learn that the change we were so desperate to make, isn't really necessary and that we, as pastors, are the only ones to benefit from the change we want to make.

We all know that change is inevitable in our lives.

In churches, we can't stay the same forever, which is why many UMC's are struggling to survive– they've been the same church since the '70's. Only God is (and should be) the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Church traditions, if not careful, can only contain yesterdays and we can inadvertently box God in our yesterdays and make God seem outdated and irrelevant to our lives today.

At the same time, changes doesn't have to be completely painful. We, as leaders, can do a lot to make the transitions smoother, or at least informative and help them see what is happening, what is changing, why it's happening and what will remain the same.

I would've appreciated to hear why EA sports did away with the franchise mode as I knew it. Would I've agree with it? Maybe. Maybe not. But it's better than having it sprung on me the way it was.

I also hope, that, as pastor of St. Mark, I remember all the words I just typed and help the congregation move along with the changes we need to make to be the church God wants us to be, instead of forcing changes upon them without knowledge or discussion.

Well. It looks like I'll just have to coach RGIII to lead the way and hope to rack up coaching awards and prestige in the coaching mode of Connected Careers.

 

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