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Monday, February 02, 2004

Relevance and the Demeaning of Tradition

Beginning in the 1960s and '70s, as Christian leaders witnessed the rather open challenges to authority and doctrine, as well as practice, some said that churches needed to compete with market-driven strategies to keep peoples' attention. Lights, guitars, and PowerPoint sermons popped up. "Relevance" was the buzzword, and it still is. I'm not the first to write about this, but I have a message for all those who advocate that Christ's church needs an update: go away. We evangelicals instinctively know that good Biblical doctrine needs little revision, (if any) but what about our practice, our liturgy? There are segments of evangelicals who believe that liturgy killed the Gospel. To be somewhat crass, we broke away from Rome because it was boring. So you say structure kept the Word of God from saving souls? I beg to differ. I have heard some say we need some sort of revolution in church, and the way we think about worship. I hear them saying folks won't like those dusty old hymns, and creeds, and responsive readings. College students need something to keep their attention, they say. Was Jesus' ministry boring? Was He not able to capture attention? Are you going to say the Resurrection needs a little dressing up? Millions and millions of teenagers and young adults were saved by this Gospel done the "old way" before you came along. Nothing personal, but souls were thrilled by the work of Christ long before Third Day or Twila Paris. Readers out there need to take this as a rebuke if they're afraid of the word "church." If you think you need to get your foot in the door for Christ before anyone will listen, we need to talk. If you walk into a structured service and automatically think, "The Spirit of God is not moving here," then you've fallen prey to this culture of felt needs. Do you only see passion in tilted heads and raised hands? If so, you may have unintentionally called the body of Christ dead where it is (and we are) very much alive. Someone should think maybe the problem is not with the presentation, but with our hearts. Save your revolutions. We had one at the Hill of the Skull so long ago, and we don't need another.

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