WARREN: ‘Who stole my church?’ | Free sharing


This article is a religious chronicle.

In 2009, Pastor Gordon McDonald authored a book called “Who Stole My Church?”

Many today, young and old, feel like their church has been robbed in some sense of the word. Worship and other dimensions of church life are barely recognizable. Oh, in some churches there are still a few familiar fragments left in a worship service and church life. While in some churches, all traditional elements have been totally removed.

One of the reasons I set out to write this series is to help churches and church leaders understand that a certain amount of tradition is important to human beings, both from a religious and psychological view. Perhaps that is why my undergraduate degree was in psychology and my graduate (seminary) training was in theology and biblical studies. These two fields of study work hand in hand at certain levels.

Why is religious tradition more important than ever?

In the past two or three years, something has happened that has reminded us how vital it is to have traditions that we can rely on. Do you remember what they called a pandemic? Among the chaos he caused on many levels, one often went unnoticed and unaddressed. I’m referring to the mental health crisis that happened.

Amid this mental health crisis, the only place people should have been able to find comfort in a turbulent world was their church, including a worship service, online or in person, where certain traditions can bring comfort, and their Sunday School class in which the bonds are almost like a family.

Another reason some traditions are more important than ever has been the decline and even loss of some traditional religious and moral standards in recent decades. Things once considered sacred are now considered common. There was a day when the church was considered sacred. Sunday was the Lord’s Day, and we treated it as such, even in the way we dressed. It was a day for church, family and rest. States had blue laws. Alcohol could not be sold on Sundays. Shops and malls have been closed. There were no sporting events. The residential and commercial contraction has stopped. Virtually no one mowed their lawn on Sunday. Even Wednesday night was known as church night, and no sporting or community events were scheduled.

The traditional sanctity of marriage has also been diluted. Traditional marriage was between a man and a woman. Couples living together before marriage were frowned upon. Divorces were rare and difficult to obtain.

Is it any wonder that many mourn the loss of certain traditions in the one place we thought was ever sacred – the church?

There is no doubt in my mind that the motives of churches and leaders who have removed certain traditions and replaced them with more modern elements are pure and done with the intention of reaching more people. However, some of those decisions may be based on some of the mistakes of the modern church growth movement, which I once bought into the hook, line, and sinker, as I mentioned in my previous post. . To be honest, I’m still not convinced that style of worship, for example, has much to do with who a church reaches or whether or not it grows. The early church in the book of Acts grew like wildfire. I don’t know what kind of music they used, or even if they had a lot of music at all.

The modern church growth movement says that worship and other elements of church life must be adapted to appeal to the tastes of the younger generation and/or seekers. The removal of traditional elements, including classic anthems, is based on the assumption that these elements will turn off or disinterest these groups.

I have yet to see confirmation that young adults and other seekers today object to singing the great hymns of the church. Perhaps more than at any other time in history, younger generations have needed the messages of classic church hymns.

Change is bound to happen over time. Sometimes change is necessary and can be a good thing. On the other hand, tradition is not always a bad thing. The word tradition comes from two Latin words that mean “to transmit or transmit”. We have certain religious beliefs, customs and practices that have simply been “handed down and passed down” from previous generations. These traditions should be carefully considered. The bad ones should be discarded, while the good ones should be embraced and preserved.

“Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us.” – AW Tozer… To be continued.

Warren chip is past president of the Albertville Ministerial Fellowship.

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