Sociologists have studied the differences in the rates at which groups of people respond to new information and ideas and have devised classification schemes based to describe this behavior. One such scheme speaks of innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards—with the innovators being the quickest to accept change and the laggards being the last to respond. I thought about that when I ran across a reference to the fact that this past weekend marked the 74th anniversary of the first night game in Major League Baseball history. The Cincinnati Reds played the Philadelphia Phillies on May 24, 1935 under the lights at Crosley Field. Other teams rapidly followed suit and night games became the norm rather than the exception. The last holdout to this trend was the Chicago Cubs. They didn’t play their first night game at Wrigley Field until Aug. 9, 1988, 53 years after the first MLB night game.
Laggards tend to be so tradition-bound that when they finally accept a new behavior or idea, it may well have been rendered obsolete by the innovators who have pushed on to newer frontiers. While we serve a risen Lord who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and while the truths of the Gospel are unchanging, our methodologies and programs must be flexible and adaptive to respond to the ever-changing world in which we live. Time-honored traditions enrich our heritage, but if we’re not careful they can become prisons that entrap us in the past. Let’s not lag behind to the point that we’re left out in the dark.