Friday, January 14, 2011
Tradition, Breaking the Mold Without Ruining the Work
All three aspects of the class are scary.
Topics that challenge existing church paradigms are scary because they could conceivably create another ineffective model for doing church. Asking believers to step out into spiritual gifting is scary because, let's face it, the gifts of the Holy Spirit can get messy some times; it's a lot less risky to make someone a pan of baked ziti than it is to hear God in prophecy, and deliver it. And finally, knowing when to depart from tradition, and when to stick with it, is also scary. The church tends to reinvent itself every so often, and the results are mixed at best.
The question I am exploring is how to we change what is broken, and capitalize on what is working (what God is actually doing)? Fixing churches is not always easy, and often the approach is something like this.
"My sister's horse was sick, so I shot it. I heard it helps with the healing process. And if he is still sick next week, I'll shoot him again." - Larry the Cable Guy
I propose going slowly - making a U-Turn on the Interstate is dangerous!
James 3:4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
Of course, looking at this from another perspective, we need to embrace change so that we can become effective and mature; there is no formula for either one. I think of the most overlooked principals in church is "walking with God." It is easy to run along and ask Him to join us in our journey in life and maybe missing our spiritual destiny altogether. It makes me think of many pop and rock singers that got their start in Gospel or Christian music such as Whitney Houston, Elvis Presley, and Marilyn Manson. I am not saying that secular music is bad, but when I look at the opportunities they may have missed, it seems sad. Of course it is just as easy to throw some religious behavior in God's direction without connecting to the Spirit.
If we read the book of Acts, there was a lot of resistance to the Gospel message within various cultures. The text does not mention those that didn't really engage the Gospel message, either in the time of Jesus, or later in the ministry of the apostles.
Indifference is a whole other blog.
For those that are willing to engage change in my class and listen to new ideas, here is how I am going to handle it. I am going to:
- admit that I don't have all the answers.
- not take myself too seriously.
- help the participants find and use their gifts through teaching and hopefully discernment.
- to ask them to check out my material with the Bible and God.
- to encourage folks to hear from God for themselves.
- encourage folks to step out, and be prepared for God to use them as well as miss God with humility.
- try not use scripted religious behavior and buzz words.
- continue to be amazed that God can do so much without my help.
- thank God for everything that He does in class.
- try again regardless of the results in the natural.
How will they handle it? I don't really know, it's new territory for all of us.
The church in my region appears to be emerging into a new season, a new way of doing things that includes many more believers that once sat in a pew.
What do you think, can the church handle change, or will it continue to rely on tradition? Are you part of the problem, or the solution?