Tomorrow a Carbon Copy of Yesterday?


Before modern technology, before ink-jet laser, or toner copiers, there were these blue ink laden sheets known as carbon sheets. By taking a carbon sheet and placing it between an original (on top) and a blank sheet of paper (on bottom) then tracing over what was on the top sheet you could create a carbon copy on the bottom blank sheet of paper. Hence the name carbon copy.

One of the great fallacies in organizations is keeping dying practices alive too long. In the church we call these traditions. Traditions are those practices that we repeat over and over. Too often these traditions become our weaknesses. They become our weaknesses because we rely on their past victories. If it once worked (years ago) we believe it is still as good today.

The issue is good is not good enough. In fact, many traditions are not good or healthy in the church today. Good is the enemy of great. Each time we settle for good, I’m convinced we are pleasing Satan, not God. As long as you settle for good, you’ll never reach for the greatness the God created you for.

Can tomorrow be a carbon copy of yesterday. Regardless of business you are in the answer is a resounding NO. In case you have not noticed, a copy is never as good as the original. Carbon copies were not as good as the original they were pressed from. Today, photocopies are not as good as the original. Tools, cars, knock off clothing nor anything that is made as a copy of an original falls short of being as good as the original.

In church (or any organization) we cannot expect to move forward while hanging on to things and practices of the past. The culture around us has changed and is indeed changing at a more rapid pace than anytime in history. While we have heard this for years, even decades, the church, in general, has failed to embrace the need for redeveloping itself to reach people for Christ.

We must understand that for two millennium the church has evolved and transformed to share God and His love to its contemporary generation. I once worked for a retail establishment. It was the second largest (sales volume) of its kind in the nation. Competitors began changing their stores using a different concept of shopping experiences. The company I worked for refused to change. The store models had worked in the past, the company was relying on them to do the same. Trusting in the past and expecting a greater future, killed that company.

Whether in a church, religious judicatory, or any organization, tomorrows practices cannot be copies of yesterday. We were not given the past to live in. We were given the past to learn from. We live in the present and strive toward a better tomorrow. Somehow, we’ve forgotten that truth. What will you do this week to help move your organization to a better tomorrow?

George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at

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