You might think that a church that is meeting in a nightclub, has a rock band instead of a choir or “praise team”, and is more likely to decorated with diamond plate than flowers, would be against tradition. Actually quite the opposite is true.
I was speaking to my dad, who has been a baptist minister for 45+ years, this week and he said something that really stuck out of the conversation. He said: “Most of what we think of as being “traditional” today is just yesterdays methods that have out-lived their effectiveness.” Think hymns are the “right thing” to sing in church? They were once scandalous because they combined religious words with popular music (even bar tunes) of the day. Think it’s wrong to “entertain” in a church service? My dad recounted to me how years ago, before the widespread availability of television and other home entertainment, going to church with “everyone else” in your community to hear live music and preaching was considered quite “entertaining”! Even though they seem “old school” today, tent-meetings were truly “events” in the small town America of yesterday.
From the beginning of the Church, God has had a “traditional” way of “doing business”. Again and again, God chooses to show his mercy to an ever more inclusive group of people, and in doing so he uses “unworthy” people to spread his message of grace ….which of course completely angers the religious “experts” and “professionals” of the day.
God sent his son Jesus…in the body of a Jewish carpenter… a man definitely deemed “unworthy” and “uneducated” by the standards of the religious experts and professionals. To make matters worse, Jesus spread his message of forgiveness and mercy to even more “unworthy” common people…tax collectors, fisherman, and prostitutes to name a few. Things didn’t get a lot better for the religious elite after they killed Jesus. God continued his “tradition” by empowering the “riff raff” that had followed Jesus to spread his message of mercy to even more “unworthy people”…gentiles, pagans, foreigners, you, and me. Over the centuries, every time the religious “experts” managed to “properly civilize” and neuter the Gospel of Jesus…God would send more “unworthy men” to spread his message to the “common” people. God sent wild-eyed reformers, “rebellious” monks, and circuit riding preachers who wouldn’t follow the laws that made preaching outside of the cathedrals illegal. God used humble printing press inventors and operators to harness their trade to spread his message of grace and mercy. Their “technology explosion” took Gods word out of the hands of the religious “experts” and “professionals” and into the homes of an ever more inclusive group of people.
So does God’s “tradition” continue on-even today? I think so. Once again the revolutionary Gospel has been tamed and civilized into a series of lectures and studies led (of course ) by proper religious “experts” and “professionals”. Instead of living lives of mighty deeds, we memorize creeds. Salvation is a doctrine to be dissected and argued about instead of something to be offered to the masses of “unworthy” people God intended it for. The Church speaks to “church people”. Once again I see God inspiring “unworthy” people all over the world to share his message of grace and mercy to ever widening circles of people. God (as he “traditionally” does) has by-passed the religious elite and “Bible-trivia” experts and is pouring out his spirit on “common” men and women once again. I am so proud that actionchurch , as unworthy as we are, is a tiny part of that “tradition”!
19 For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)