One of my oldest friendships asked me a profound question: “What has been normalized in your church that might not be Christ-like or biblically based? And, do you feel free to question those practices, values, structures, and traditions? (This is an open-ended question that has been heavy in my heart for decades.)”
I’ve been pondering this since you sent it and as I saw your email and FB post. I am just putting down some bullet points because each of the thoughts but could become a book if thought through. I’m not sure what your objective in this is, but I would like to dialogue with the points if you’d like… I kind of like this stuff!. As I got into this list and thought a bit more about it, it feels like I could be posting on the new 95 Thesis on the Wittenberg Door!
- Churches as buildings. I get that we need places to meet and gather, but I think we have been too absorbed and vested in funding buildings that are under-utilized most of the week. I totally get the stewardship/investment argument but we may have been sucked trap. If we must build a building, maybe create a space that the community can use the rest of the week.
- Musical Worship: I see many people connect deeply through musical worship, but sometimes this has become so formulaic that it almost becomes an idol. Pretty songs, pretty stage, pretty lights, pretty people…sometimes this makes me gag. When we come together as the church, I appreciate being intentional and deliberate, but sometimes I feel disconnected in the flashy and cheesy. I understand people have differents ways to connect…so I am not throwing all of this out, but we have to evaluate what we do.
- Ordination: I affirm having some standards for elders, teachers, and apostles, etc., but the process of ordination and the term ‘Reverend’ have been usurped by human made institutions. Even though the US prides of self on the separation of church and state, ordination has been closely associated with who is allowed particular benefits from the government (ie. taxation issues). Ordination has been used to filter who gets privileges and benefits.
- Denominations: I can live with the freedom to associate (congregate) with like minded thinkers, but when those become siloed, the turn into denominations that flaunt distinctiveness.
- Sunday vs Sabbath: Do I need to say more?
- Dropping of a liturgical calendar: sounds contarty to my comments on denominations/ordination, but the Bible celebrates a seasonal rhythm of life. The protestant church has really left this behind.
- Value of independence vs interdependence: This is a western and especially a US value.
- Para-Church vs Church: there really is no distinction
- “Appropriate age for marriage”: I still believe Scripture still teaches ‘keeping the marriage bed Holy,” but our biological clocks do not match with societal views on marriage and family. We applaud the western notion of a nuclear family, but Scripture seems indicate more an extended family model. I am in favor that we reaffirm kids getting married earlier and restructure households to become multigenerational again.