Why tradition is good:
- It honors God for what He has done. Tradition, by definition, is tied to the past. Ideally, though, it focuses on God and what He has done, not on what we used to do in the church. Healthy tradition is concerned about glorifying God only.
- It celebrates the past while pressing toward the future. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating yesterday as long as that rejoicing encourages us to move into the future. My first church had an annual homecoming service that retold God’s work to encourage us to capture God’s vision for tomorrow—and that’s a good kind of tradition.
- It grounds next generations in the work of God. Tradition is good when it helps next generations appreciate what God has done through His people in the past. For example, the Hebrews marked places where God worked so their children and grandchildren could know His care and guidance (e.g., Joshua 4).
- It offers wisdom when making change. Sometimes, the traditions of a church cause leaders to carefully and prayerfully consider options before making a change. That’s not a bad thing.
- It evokes gratitude and unity. Because it celebrates God’s work in the past as a means of faith for the future, our response ought to be thanksgiving as the family of God.
Why traditionalism is not good:
- It emphasizes what we (or others) have done more than what God has done. Traditionalism fights to save traditions, but the traditions are what we’ve done . . . what our forefathers did . . . what our denomination has “always” done. It assumes that our preferences are God’s commands.
- It elevates the past over the future. Traditionalism is protective and reactive. It guards yesterday’s turf at the expense of making a difference today and tomorrow. It fears the future more than it influences it.
- It hinders reaching the next generations. Traditionalism assumes that almost anything new is a threat to the gospel, even if the gospel itself is never compromised. It requires young generations to become us if they want to follow God.
- It blocks making necessary change. Traditionalism fights change, often without honest consideration of the options. It doesn’t inform change like tradition does; it obstructs it.
- It leads to division. Traditionalism is elevating tradition to the level of commandment as if it equals the gospel. The emotion behind such a position usually creates conflict and disunity.
Perhaps you think preachers simply hit a ‘zone’ while preaching and are impervious to all other thoughts during that time?
I’m sure some are.
Chuck Lawless’ ten offerings resonated with me, though.
Here’s a few:
Am I really connecting? Even one distracted expression or one quizzical look will make me wonder. It’s funny how I’ll see that one person out of hundreds in attendance.
Are they surfing the net rather than reading the Word on their phone? I struggle with listening to preaching sometimes, so I assume others do, too.
Why is that person sleeping? I’ve worked hard on this sermon, and I think its outline is decent – but still he (or she) is sleeping! I hope the fatigue isn’t related to my content and delivery, but I can’t help but wonder.
Will (name) finally turn to Jesus today? Most of us know somebody who hears us every Sunday, but who hasn’t yet turned from sin and believed. We preach expectantly, and too often we grieve as we wait through another Sunday.
I don’t see (name). I’m surprised how often I suddenly realize in the middle of a sermon that somebody’s not in his or her “regular” seat. We take mental attendance as we preach.
Read the rest here.