The Past

Bumble's response to my recommendation of an article about heritage resulted in my wanting to comment in a blog entry rather than in a response to his comment.

Several years ago our former Pastor had us repeat the Apostles' Creed. A family who had been raised in fundamentalism got up and left and they have never come back. For them, reciting the Creed was associated with formalism and dead denominationalism, and they wanted no part in that. I mourned their lack of perspective.

In the article I pointed to in the previous blog, Rick Phillips suggests returning to or re-acquainting people with the past. I think he gives some good advice, even if one doesn't want to use the particular forms he proposes.

Our culture is enthralled with the latest and greatest. We almost seem to need the latest and greatest to sustain our interest. And we view what came before us as antiquated and irrelevant. When we bring that approach to our spiritual lives and to our churches, we plunge headlong into a consumer driven mentality, and a mentality that suggests that youth is far superior to age and experience, and I believe we do so to the detriment of our people.

I recall a conversation recently with my brother in law. He had indicated that his Pastor had been approached by a visitor who told him that he could fill his church if he would "lighten up" and preach less, sing more. That - to me - typifies so much of what we hear today. Let me see if I get this right: Our people are biblically illiterate, but I should teach them less? Our people live lives that are no different than the pagans around them, but I need to focus on felt needs?

Those who came before us give us balance. Their wisdom calls us to faithfulness and devotion. We can ignore them, but in so doing we display an unusual arrogance. We certainly want to avoid the extreme that equates doing things the "old" way with biblical fidelity. But if using the contributions of those who have gone before us - even if their style is different than ours - can help deepen our people, then let's open that well from which they can drink.

10 comments:

Scott said...

Right on the money Peter. So many folks are coming to church wanting to "feel better" and there's nothing wrong with that in it's proper place. I believe the modern church movement has gotten so caught up in "feel good ism'" that it's sowing the seeds of its irrelevance within the next generation. I'm reading a book on this very topic and there was a quote to this effect essentially saying that once people find something else to feel good with, they will leave the church they no longer need and since the church based itself on this "feel good" philosophy, it will have nothing left to offer that person.

God Help Us!

bumble said...

Thanks Peter, for taking this topic on. But you just gave an appetizer. I12know more; "why heritage matter?"

I came from a Vietnamese CM&A church. The missionaries of the CM&A brought the gospel to Vietnam in 1911. They themselves only started a few years before that.

Now, as we just recently 30 years of settlement in the US, young people like me are not likely to consider any "heritage" from either the American or the Vietnamese.

Should we even consider any denominational/cultural heritage?

Have you read http://www.drurywriting.com/keith/faith.meltdown.story.htm ?

Thanks for your thoughts.

mar13 said...

Try 2:

http://www.drurywriting.com/keith/faith.meltdown.story.htm

Peter Bogert said...

I can understand how that relates to you, Bumble, but I am sure you are not just blindly adopting modern american culture as the mode of ministry. I'd enjoy hearing more about this.

Peter Bogert said...

Interesting read, Bumble. Thanks for pointing that out.

Totem to Temple said...

Thanks for your article. I found it interesting that at the very end of church last Sunday, we recited the Apostles Creed and I felt an confirmation as basic core foundational doctrines were being emphasized. A breath of fresh air when many churches instead are emphasizinf seeker sensitivity and purpose-driveness.

Bumble said...

"I am sure you are not just blindly adopting modern american culture as the mode of ministry..."

No, but I am not pretending that I know the "right" mode of ministry either. To tell you the truth, most of the time, I am half way confused, gathering everything around and asking, "What's faithful with the Word, and also relevant in my world?"

Milton Stanley said...

Good post, Peter. I blogged on it today. Peace.

Peter Bogert said...

Thanks, Milton.

Bumble: I can appreciate the fact that some of this discussion may seem irrelevant. I think that pursuing faithfulness to Scripture will always keep you on target, and certainly the goal is not to replicate Western Christian forms.

Frank said...

I came acorss the post via Transforming Sermons and it is GREAT. I threw up a link to you, and Milton both and I hope that my visitors come by and give it a read.

http://www.team-swap.com/wordpress/2005/08/01/church-history-and-its-importance/