Are we becoming obsolete?

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Our friend Bargo sent me this photo that he took of an old covered bridge recently, and it struck as both hilarious and chilling; take a closer look at it, if you would…

Those old rules are really funny in the 21st century; keep those beasts at a walk!

In the 19th century, they would have been pretty important.  Can you imagine what it would be like if you were walking across the bridge and some jerk was running a couple dozen horses across at the same time?  Yes, those old ways had their uses in their day, but now we can probably wipe them off the books and post a speed limit for cars instead.  That would be a whole lot more intelligent wouldn’t it? Well it would if cars are allowed on the bridge anyway.

So much for humor, this is also a bit chilling.  How many of the practices of our churches are just as obsolete as this sign?  I wonder how many of us are hanging on to the old ways just because we always have done things in a certain way, and we really haven’t thought about it in years…

Our old ways, traditions really, had their place at one time, but many are quite silly in today’s world. Are we holding our churches back by clinging to them?  The answer to that question depends upon who we ask I would imagine.  If you love the tradition, you’ll probably say that it is the only way to do things.  My own mother told me a few years ago that if a church sings modern songs, they are not having worship! Really?  Aren’t the old hymns just the modern music of a different age?

OK, you get the idea; this post isn’t about music, that’s just an easy example.  What other things do we do that are obsolete? Please understand that when I say obsolete, I mean things that are merely traditions of men that are no longer helping us to reach the lost and make disciples.  I am not talking about the message of Scripture; we never mess with that!

I wonder: What would really happen if we took inventory of the things we do in our churches, and accurately identified those things that are traditions of men. Then, if we separated them from things the Bible instructs us to do, and then evaluated the traditions to determine if they are really helping us to do God’s work in the present day.

I strongly suspect that we would begin doing things differently in most places!

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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13 Responses to Are we becoming obsolete?

  1. YRB says:

    The “Church” needs to evaluate itself and see if instead of being informed by what the world wants, to actually understand its original mission and purpose. This might lead to more personal communion with the Lord and study of the Scriptures. People are far too used to being spoon fed by “authority figures” and hierarchy, which in my experience seem pretty much interested in keeping people at a very rudimentary level of Christianity. What is needed is something that encourages dynamic spiritual development.

  2. adamaphar says:

    This is something that I have thought about quite a bit. A symbol of faith is used because it conveys (quite literally) that which it points to, but in an intelligble way. The question is what happens when symbols lose their intelligibility. I do not think it is the case that any old symbol will do, because some symbols simply are not appropriate for sacredness and mystery. This takes careful, deliberate reflection. The rush to be relevant I think often means that a church is not doing anything more than reflecting culture, without any sense of bringing its congregants into the kingdom of God. I think a church needs to dare to be more than psychology, more than philosophy, more than a country club, more than a hospital, more than a social services agency, etc.

  3. Pingback: Are we becoming obsolete? | A disciple's study

  4. gwennonr says:

    This was an especially relevant message to me as my parents and I have actually struggled for years (my dad told me I was not taking their ideas seriously enough) over the idea of what music is appropriate. According to my dad and his whole family, only the old hymns were acceptable. So, when you wrote, “Aren’t the old hymns just the modern music of a different age?” I nearly laughed out loud. (Now, we seem to have gone too far the other direction at our current church, and if I want to hear many of the older hymns, I have to dig out one of my hymnals and sing it myself.)

    You are right. This is about more than music. I appreciated the whole post. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Don Merritt says:

      You’ll appreciate this, I think…

      My favorite “church music” was written by J.S. Bach about 300 years ago. We don’t really use in for Sunday worship any more because most people associate it with Halloween haunted houses! I can listen to Bach any time I want to on CD, but on Sunday morning we have contemporary music in a growing and vibrant church that is true to the message of Scripture. Even though I’m no fan of the contemporary stuff personally, I pushed to have it as our worship music when I was overseeing worship, and boy am I glad I did!

      • gwennonr says:

        I really do love Bach. His “Sheep May Safely Graze” contains so much biblical truth. I think that Johann Sebastien Bach wove themes of both salvation and warnings to sinners to repent while they still could through a lot of his compositions. I think this is one of God’s ways of stealthily presenting truth to those who are mostly closed to receiving it, especially if there is a chance they may still be reached.

        I don’t hate contemporary music. But I often wish for a better mix of old and new.

        If you are not already reading Sue Nash’s blog “Heavenly Raindrops”, you may want to go there to read her article “Singing off the Wall”. I really loved what she had to say, and perhaps you will also enjoy it.

        Anyway, thanks for a really good post. Keep up the good work.

  5. Lee says:

    I am from the old school when it comes to Biblical standards, but am able to adapt to different things as they come along. As long as the Word of God is not violated.

  6. dcshelton says:

    To the weak I became weak in order to gain the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that by all means I may save some.
    (1Cor 9:22 NET_Premier)
    This is one of Watermark Church pillars of faith by which we govern the Local Church functions. To stay relevant and innovative. Not giving compromise to truth of scripture, but not hanging on to unessential traditions of man that do no help us reach more people for Jesus.

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