Here is a true -life story which I recently read about. In 1950, the United States Air Force had a problem: Its airplanes were falling out of the sky way too often. Despite it being peacetime (after World War II), far too many of the Air Force’s pilots were still dying – often, inexplicably, in training. A team of researchers at Wright Air Force Base in Ohio discovered the cause: The cockpits in those early airplanes had been designed based on the average measurements of pilots – including things like height, weight, arm length, and other physical dimensions. But, it turned out that not a single pilot was actually average across the 10 variables measured. Even on the three most important dimensions, less than 5% of all airmen were even close to “average”. The most powerful military in the world had designed their cockpits for the average pilot. But not a single pilot was actually average. And a cockpit that is the wrong size, even by a little bit, can significantly impact a pilot’s reaction time, and get them killed. The Air Force assumed one size fits all. But, in reality, one size fits none. The solution was simple – adjustable seats, adjustable pedals, adjustable helmets, adjustable everything. I worked for an airline and was continually amazed at the different sizes of the pilots. Tiny, squishy seats could hold pilots of all different sizes.
We now take this kind of customization for granted and couldn’t imagine being without it in our cars, nevermind in a fighter jet. And yet, in some aspects in our lives, we are still making that “one size fits all” mistake. In that regard, we need to have churches that are innovative when it comes to worship styles, Sunday School classes that offer all sorts of teaching opportunities, and discipleship ministries that take into account different interests and spiritual giftings. We may not do these things perfectly but at least we can attempt to be sensitive to the needs and wishes of individuals as well as the pushing and leading of the Holy Spirit. The Billy Graham Crusades and ministry changed dramatically over the decades. What worked for them in the 1940’s did not necessarily work by the year 2000 AD, and they adapted accordingly. Other ministries that were hugely influential 50 years ago have disappeared as they did not change or adapt.
As we have now come to 2024, and come out of a frankly scary and depressing three years of the Covid pandemic, I want to say that what worked in 2019 does not necessarily work in 2024. The public in general now has a much lower view of the mainstream media, pharmaceutical companies, and lifetime politicians. How do we adapt to that reality as Christians and as churches? It starts with holding firm to the essentials of the faith. It continues by embracing that truth is not relative but objective. There is no “my truth” or “your truth”, but only “the truth” – and we need to live according to God’s truth, the truth. God’s Word is faithful, reliable, and true. He will guide us as we seek Him with our whole hearts. The only size that fits all is that God will be with us as we seek Him and live for Him.