Is church a list of programs, or a set of traditions, ceremonies and pageantry? Does it really matter what style of music you have, or whether or not the preacher (by whatever name) wears robes, a suit or jeans? Is it possible to worship without candles or a certain type of décor? Do we choose a church because of its youth group, its seniors’ ministry or its bowling league?
That is what I mean by how we “do church”.
Ah yes, the most powerful force in the modern church: The way we’ve always done it.
As I pointed out in the last post, church as a movement changes lives for Christ while the church as an institution maintains the status quo.
Many of the things in this category are matters of personal preference. When I am at home, what I may prefer gets some attention, but in the Body of Christ, we have a much higher calling than “self”. Our traditions are usually good; they are often the great ideas of an earlier time, but the real question we should ask is whether or not they still contribute to the building of God’s Kingdom. If they do, that’s great. If they don’t they are obsolete and out they go.
Programs are all well and good if they help build the Kingdom, but if they don’t, we need to try something else. To put it another way, we may have many excellent ministries that meet the needs of our community and bring healing and hope for many, and this is a very good thing. We also might have ministries that either never connected with the needs of the community, or that no longer reach the needs of the community, and we mustn’t keep them around for old time’s sake, for that is how a movement begins to stagnate and turn into an institution.
No doubt you can think of many other examples of how “the way we’ve always done things” has held our great movement back. I’m reminded of what John wrote:
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
That should be enough to think about for now, next time let’s take a look at relationships.