A little bit ago, I posted a blog article about some things I wanted to ask my “emergent” Church planting friends. I’ll probably incorporate some of the things I’d like to have said in responds to some who offered comments in a future article. In a nutshell, I found a lot of interesting things presented, reinforced and expanded upon in the dialogue that followed. I also remain frustrated with an “identity” that seems to glory in being unidentifiable — which is part of what I find very disturbing about the “emergent” culture. But, I digress….
Today, a few questions for the folks that are committed to doing church the way that it has always been done. I am really going to do my best to avoid caricatures and cliches. I’m going to leave the King James Only Types and the most extreme adherents to evangelical fundamentalism alone and try to aim for the more mainstream traditionalists.
For the sake of full disclosure, I probably identify more with “traditionalists” than I do with “emergents” (no…make that DEFINITELY) while at the same time, I am often disgusted with myself for too frequently approaching my faith as an exercise rather than a journey. I believe some earnest questions are in order.
1. Is it just me, or do you think some traditionalist church leaders would just as soon see their church close as change because they would view change as “compromise?”
2. If it meant you could see your son or grandaughter continue in the church of their childhood as an adult, would you be willing to let tolerate some things like more contemporary music, more casual dress or a less formal order of service in your services?
3. If the whippersnapper youngsters would be willing to admit that they have over-dosed on “grace” to the point of license, would you be willing to admit that the traditionalist generation often over-doses on the law to embrace an unbiblical form of legalism?
4. Is the church down the street who subscribes to a traditional evangelical/fundamental doctrinal orthodoxy, yet has up-beat music, expressive worship including clapping and raising of hands, untraditional dress (read: casual) and other characteristics that give you headaches and panic attacks really destroying Christianity (if not civilization)? Are they enemies of sound doctrine?
5. Why is it that traditional churches are generally monochromatic racially? Why is it that they skew older –often dramatically? Is there a correlation?
6. Would you be willing to agree that some traditionalist church leaders have elevated traditions and preferences to the point (if not above the point) of doctrinal matters?
7. If it meant that your church would continue for another generation with a fresh wave of younger members and leadership, would you be willing to consider adjusting things like: Service schedules? Using women as ushers and greeters? Allowing guitars and drums to accompany the music? Permitting younger people — teens even — to participate in things like singing in the choir or taking the offering or even teaching or working in the nursery? Utilize meetings in homes rather than only on-campus functions for instruction?
8. Is it accurate to say that many traditional churches are more intent on things that can be counted and easily measured (baptisms, “decisions”, membership, new members) than things that are more nuanced and more difficult to calibrate (discipleship, equipping, training, connecting, developing spiritual disciplines?)
9. Is it possible that many traditional churches have largely neglected the 1/3rd of the great commission that deals with discipleship wherein a new convert is personally and systematically instructed in the doctrines of Scripture and the responsibilities of the Christian walk? Why is that so?
10. Have many traditional churches become overly critical of others who are less traditional? Paranoid about change of any kind? Self-satisfied? Separated to the point of isolation? Envious of God’s blessings on other ministries which we might routinely dismiss as evidence of compromise in order to “draw a crowd”?
11. Has the traditional church lost sight of changes in communication and transportation which has left us with a system of missionary outreach that is outdated and inefficient?
12. Has the traditional church created an artificial, arbitrary and even pharisaical attitude toward holiness that emphasizes conforming to a “list” of acceptable and unacceptable conduct matters while ignoring the command to be transformed by adopting a Christ-like mentality. (EXAMPLE: Consider our commitment to preaching a tee-totaler’s position on alcohol — which I personally hold, btw — to our absence of preaching on matters like gluttony in light of Scripture saying much more about over-eating than not drinking at all.)
OK….I’m going to stop now. I have more. But I also had more for the Emergents. You may feel free to add your own questions, comment on these questions or send me hate mail which accuses me of destroying fundamentalism. I look forward to seeing your comments. If you haven’t read the Emergent dialogue, I would challenge you to do so be clicking HERE.