Why Tradition Matters

Credit: kavunchik / Thinkstock

“Not Your Grandma’s Church” boast the mailers, an advertisement for the most recent church plant in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, now if you see such an ad, you can be assured that they are just like every other church in town…because it seems every church is now: “Not your grandma’s church.” Today the church has become acquainted with marketing techniques that capitalize on innovation, an almost prideful departure from tradition. This is often projected as admirable—doing anything necessary to reach those far from God.

Is it possible that in our effort to be missional by using methods intended to make the church appear like the world, we have lost a sense of who we are? We often adopt the promotional behaviors of the world in an attempt to set our church apart from all the other churches. The pressure to compete compels the church to continually push the envelope. In this case, pastors feel the almost irresistible need to distinguish their church, not from the world, but rather from the church next door.

The truth is the Church has a language. We have customs and traditions. Such things are grounded in the biblical text, and were painstakingly confirmed by our predecessors in order to make us one—to ensure a lasting catholicity. These efforts, prominently displayed in our creeds, were established to preserve the church. The more innovative we tend to be in our worship and strategies, the more individualistic we become as churches, and potentially pass this trait on to worshipers. Rather than spending our time and money to distinguish ourselves from one another, let’s celebrate our common heritage. This heritage has been preserved by the Spirit of God and passed down to us through our treasured liturgies—liturgies that were formed to make the Church distinct from the world…not each other.

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Rev. Gary Ball is a church planter, and Anglican priest serving Redeemer Anglican Church for the past three years in the funky mountain town of Asheville, NC. Gary is a graduate of Trevecca Nazarene University, in Nashville, TN, with most of his graduate studies completed at Fuller Seminary. He is currently pursuing a D.Min at Nashotah House Seminary. His interests are church planting, liturgics, and the Church Fathers. Gary is is married to Susannah, and they have three children.

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