Friday, January 14, 2011

Tradition, Breaking the Mold Without Ruining the Work

Today I am teaching my first class in the 5-Fold School of Ministry. As a group of Christians, we'll be looking at some challenging topics, encouraging the participants to love others with their gifts, and in some cases, relying on tradition.

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:

- pray.
- 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.

It's exciting!

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?


Charlie Chang said...

I'd say everyone has traditions. And when those traditions aren't done, we feel insecure maybe?

I'd also say I'm part of the problem. I want to help disciple younger guys but don't know where to start.

photogr said...


I am sure you will be quite successful in your new venture. I am also praying for your success if that will help.

Many in the churches and out side the church are looking for a new way to connect with God rather than traditional ways.

I'm sure the Holy Sprirt will embrace this opportunity to reach out to your group.

Just don't give up. It will work. I have confidence in your ability based on your writings.

I am looking forward to hearing how well this will progress.Keep me informed please.

Charlie's Church of Christ said...

what do you mean help them miss God with humility?

David said...

@Charlie - a sincere searching heart and some intimacy with Jesus is all that is required. You've got it.

@Larry - Thanks for the prayers. Class one stirred up some excitement. We had the participants pray for each other... looking forward to the testimonies next Friday!

@Charlie2 - I am trying to teach the folks in the class to hear God, judge it, and take some risks. Some may think they hear God and it is not. So we admit that, and keep trying. It's a relationship, and it is going to take time to recognize God's voice. Humility is the only path forward. The job of others is to offer grace, and encourage them not to give up.

Tracy said...

Your title here totally grabbed my attention; it's spot on for me. I don't want to just do rote/meaningless activities, but do not want to throw away those traditions which were truly inspired by God and are good, rich, things we can pass on to those who come after us. God has used my oldest son has to teach me a lot about that which is positive concerning traditions.

I also totally appreciate the 11 things you list that you are going to do in this class - with that foundation, I know that you'll be open to what God wants to do. I'm interested in hearing more in the days to come about what God's doing through this class. This is exciting stuff!

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