I am privileged. Privileged not in the sense of arrogance but honored by God’s grace to shepherd the flock, which gathers at West Green Baptist Church. This congregation rests in the heart of my hometown community, and its people have a heart for Christ. This passion manifests itself by the people’s interest in the lives of other; both within the walls and without. You don’t have to attend our services to be loved by our fellowship.
West Green Baptist is a traditional Baptist church. Some wanna-be church growth gurus probably shuttered at that last statement. For many, words like “traditional” are synonyms for stagnation and complacency. (To be honest, I used to think along these lines, but I have been pleasantly surprised at West Green.) I would like to go on the record saying; IT IS A MYTH THE TRADITIONAL CHURCH CANNOT GROW!
Of course, if a church decides to remain traditional simply for the fact of resisting change then cue the funeral taps because death is on the way. Yes, change is inevitable. But we don’t have to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. A church solidly grounded in historical tradition can still reach forward into the future harvest and be effective.
So, how are we to decide what needs to change in a traditional church (or any church for that matter)? I would like to restate three simple guidelines. Use these guidelines to consider your methods of ecclesiology
- Love God – How do we show our love for God? By keeping His commandments (John 14:15). We are commanded to love and worship God with every fiber of our being (Matt 24:36-40). Are we in a worship rut? Are we going through the motions during worship gatherings or are you inspired to offer God our very best? Also, Christ commissioned the church to go into all the world and make disciples (Matt 28:19-20). Are we doing church with making disciples in mind or are we merely satisfying saints?
- Love People – Of course, there is some overlap from the first principle because you cannot love God if you do not love people. Paul writes, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (NASB Rom 12:10). This love should cover all those in fellowship and those outside of the walls of the church too. The church is not about our preferences in worship as much as it is our service to God and others!
- Rinse and Repeat – What I mean is everything thing done, whether in the traditional vein or contemporary stream, should be washed thoroughly with the previous two commandments from Scripture. Once our motivations for ministry are washed by the water of the Word of God, then we need to only repeat what stands the test!
In conclusion, I know this information is not new, but that doesn’t negate its value. That is a great deal like many of the old faithful traditions many have left behind. Please do not hear me as stating one style of worship is better than the other because both have their benefits. In a nutshell, what I am trying to say is that as long as it is true worship (Jn 4:24), then God will bless our ministries. High church, low church, contemporary, or traditional are various flavors we offer up to God in worship. Be who God has wired you to be. Love God, Love people, and rinse and repeat!
A Young Man in an Old Church