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Traditions: Out with the Old, In With the New

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After reading last week’s post one pastor included in an email to me, “I am afraid many churches even ours once we are back worshiping in person will struggle not because of Theological or Doctrinal differences but will struggle and fight against Traditions.” Last week I wrote about churches in phase four of decline. Actually, churches in any phase of decline or growth will face this challenge of battling traditions.

The absolute best way to overcome traditionalism is to start new ones, healthy biblical ones. This pandemic and shutdown of church services has given us a great opportunity to be the church to the community around us. I pray your church has already engaged in helping your community. If not, don’t wait any longer. Start today. Plan and execute this week some form(s) of ministry to the community.

In doing so, don’t copy models, capture principles. In other words, don’t try to do something because you heard another church did it. Find out a true need in one sector of your community, and determine how you, as a church, are specifically gifted and resourced to meet that need. Then, rally the troops and begin serving your community. You can do it. God has resourced your church specifically to meet a need (or two) in your community.

You have already adapted your regular meetings – worship services, Bible studies, prayer meetings. When it is time to go back to the church house, there is no need to stop those, at least most of them. Continue on. God can use those means even after this is all behind us. People are being saved, the Great Commission is being served and God’s Word is being delivered to many who have not darkened the door of a church in their entire life. This is new traditions in many churches.

This pandemic has brought great and new opportunities for serving and being the church, the Great Commission church, God instituted following Christ’s resurrection. The church is lacking and not following God in obedience if we come through this and attempt to return to “normal” which is, in this case, another word for tradition.

Without an awakening of the church through this pandemic, I fear what’s next is persecution of the church amplified and expediated beyond our comprehension. God is extending His mercy on His church. Will you heed the call to become and lead your church to be The Great Commission church God intended? Not in tradition or in modern culture Christianity, but in true biblical community as read in the book of Acts? How were they adding to their number daily? It wasn’t because they were sheltered in place.

As my pastor friend, Roger White, quoted above, stated, “I pray our church will realize this is a grand opportunity to show the Lord to our community.” May this be my prayer, your prayer, and that of every North American believer.

What will you begin today to lead your church away from the old, perhaps damaging traditions into new ways of ministry reaching your community and beyond? Let me hear.

George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.

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