So, What do We Mean by, "Killing Traditions?"
Think about those things that you may include in your concept of “traditions” of what we know as church. The list is longer than one might think. The easy images come from our notions of worship traditions, organizational tradition, how we govern our churches, when we do and don’t include the Eucharist, how we take up an offering, who serves in leadership, and who doesn’t. Most of these things, be it protestant or Catholic, comes out of our denominational or orthodox/reformed church history.
But as we move deeper into the forest of traditions, we find those routinely practiced customs of our individual churches. Think about just the schedule of events as to when your congregation does just about anything. Think about how long you’ve been doing those things; for how many years? Why are you still doing them? Think about “who” traditionally does what in your church.
Think about what it would mean to stop doing your traditional activities, no matter what they are.
Think about that person who has been in charge of a given position for years. What might happen if the pastor removes the person from that position?
Now consider the money poured into those events, people, positions, structures over the years. How many (or few) new disciples have been made with those resources. Think about how those resources could have been, should have been used more productively. (How much money has been poured into a copier lease instead of a program to serve the community?) How many non-productive paths has your church gone down, over and over, just because “that’s what we’ve always done.”
We’re talking about all your church traditions, from the time church starts on Sunday morning to who’s in charge of making copies, to the style of your service, to the general perception of what “worship” should be in your church.
Think about what your “notion of church” is. What is it supposed to be? What is “church” supposed to do? Who does it serve? For many, it does not serve God, has no interest in personal growth, and has become the traditional spot to gather. For many, the church has gotten so deep into a routine that it’s not a church today. It caters to the few and neglects the many.
When we talk about killing traditions, we’re talking about revolutionizing the fundamental view of what Church is and discovering what it “could” be. Maybe, the church might not be a place to gather with family, sing, eat, take communion. Perhaps it’s a place where we come together on Sunday morning, in our work clothes, ready to go out into the community and “worship God” by doing something for others! Maybe “worship” should look like a church body putting their love for God into action, cleaning up a neighborhood, serving meals, or calling on the elderly.
Is it just tradition that keeps us tied to a building?
Could it possible to try to do something different each week?
How about the people don’t even meet on Sunday morning and still find community?
Perhaps a dying church stops pouring money into a facility it can’t support, gives it away to a new upstart, and moves into someone’s living room.
Maybe that church now finds new ways to use the resources it has to really do ministry for the first time, instead of feeding the money pit!
For many churches, the building, the style of service, the schedule of events, the governmental structure, the understanding of “church” was created fifty, sixty, or one-hundred years ago. The people of that society built the thing to fit the needs of that time. Those people are gone. That society is gone. The world’s notion of what church is entirely different today. One might say, “Today, the world really doesn’t have a notion of what church is.”
We are in a new time, a new day. We are in a massive social shift away from the Church. We also have a tremendous opportunity to connect with those emerging generations engaged in society and social causes. They also have a much bigger view of who is accepted and deserves dignity.
We need to kick in that entrepreneurial spirit of the early Church, be willing to kill traditions, and revolutionize how we “do” church. Let’s get out of the past and plug into a new idea of what “active worship” means!