Thursday, January 10, 2008

Nothing New Under the Son

I've been working on this post for a while. I want to make this point without hacking anyone off. I know many people, many good friends (who luckily don't ever read any blogs) that do exactly what I am going to recommend not doing. But, I think this still warrants saying, so please realize that this is my two cents and you are free to disagree if you want.

Katie and I have been going through some transitions recently. Our former church home was just too far away. We were able to find a great church nearer to us that shares the same vision and goals as our former church, so we made the eventual transition to this church. We visited several churches (including a scary large prosperity Gospel mega-McChurch that I've blogged about before) before settling on our current church.

Sometimes I get to talking to people about why we didn't choose another newer church near us that has some great ideas and does some new, different things. It is a great church that I would be glad to go to. We go where we felt called. But here is my main issue with so many new churches: they try really hard to not be like existing churches. For me, I just can't get fully behind a church that is trying to not be like others. I believe that a church should just be what they are called to be, and that's it. Don't worry if you do or don't look like someone else and just go for it with all of your heart.

I believe that we need new churches. We need new styles of churches to reach different people. We need churches to stay at manageable sizes so that everyone gets plugged in and covered. I'm all for that. I just feel that new churches need to watch their attitudes about existing churches.

I've seen many churches through the years try to be current and modern by avoiding "churchy" stuff. Slogans, structures, dress codes, songs, and anything else that smacks of traditional churchiness are all thrown out in favor of reaching people around them.

Then, some kind of problem happens. You see this historically with every new church ever started. Some just fall apart when this happens. But most come up with some ideas of how to deal with problems, and implement these ideas. Once these ideas are implemented, the new church usually ends up looking just like some other established church somewhere else. Sure, they may look different than the church that they originally came from, but they still really haven't created anything new.

And, hence my thought for the day - there really isn't anything new under the sun. It seems like for every church that tried something new, I eventually find someone else that was doing it before them. Things change, but most new stuff is really just a new combination of existing older stuff. And, like I said - I am all for that. I love that kind of stuff. As long as you are doing that because it is what you are led to do, not just because you are trying to not be something else.

Take for example, Vineyard churches. No one will deny that they really pushed "modern" worship into it's current level of popularity. But, if you look around hard enough, you will find churches that were doing "modern" style worship before Vineyard (or the churches that became Vineyard even) was even an idea. And the first churches that because Vineyard were not even aware of these other churches.

Or another practical example I have seen: some Baptist members get tired of not being able to raise hands in their church, or maybe the fact that they don't reach people of other cultures, or whatever. So, with the blessing of their pastor, they start a new church to explore these things and reach the culture around them. They do some things that are great and ground breaking (to them), but then some problems arise. They come up with something that solves these problems, and a few years after they have started, they end up working just like a Vineyard church.

Not that they is bad. It's just what I have noticed, and an example to make my point: follow God by actively doing what he calls you to, not by avoiding becoming someone else.

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