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The Purpose February 11, 2010

Posted by theronwatson in Uncategorized.
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As I looked at the way we do church, I found something else. Churches are strange entities. In small towns and traditional churches this is especially true. Traditional churches are resistant to change. Tradition trumps innovation because we, “have never done it that way before.” Untried, unproven practices are viewed negatively. Change is always viewed negatively. After all, if what we were doing worked, we would not need to change. Therefore, the way we are doing it is wrong. No one likes to admit that we are wrong. One of the oldest members of my former church said, “do you know what the last words of a dying church are? We’ve never done it that way before.” The problem is, we are not sure what to implement, nor when to start it. Tradition, while a good thing in many aspects, requires people to conform to the way the church behaves rather than considering what it takes to bring new people into the body. Church Where You Are addresses these things.

Consider the finances of the church. People do not use check books anymore. Yet, if a person wants to give money to the church, tradition requires a check or cash. Checks and cash require a person to break their normal routine. People are required to make an extra trip to the bank during the week, an additional pass through the ATM (which in many cases bears the burden of extra fees) or to think about the church plate while buying groceries to get cash back. Then, people are limited to the set monetary amounts of the bills we all carry. Why couldn’t there be a credit card swipe on the plate? If we are truly trying to reach the world with the Gospel, why do we demand people to conform to all the requirements of the church. We require them to change rather than extending a hand of help even though we are to be the hands and feet of Christ. We like to say that people do not have to clean themselves up before the Lord cleans them up, yet we make demands and set requirements just to attend.

Here’s another example. Tradition demands visitors worship as the church traditionally has. Consider the music. Traditionally, churches have a piano or an organ or both. Many times guitars and other instruments are frowned upon. But why? The way I understand it, the only instrument that should not be used in church is the electric organ. Guitars, harps, violins, cellos and other stringed instruments are similar to stringed instruments described in the Bible, like the lute. The piano is a stringed instrument. Trumpets, saxophones and other wind instruments are similar to horns described in the Bible. The Bible also describes drums, cymbals and other rhythm instruments. Are bands so bad? Are they too trendy? Just because we have never used one before does not make it a bad idea. New, modern churches are using them with great success. If that’s what people need in order to be drawn to church, why not have it.

A friend of mine used to say, “I’m already saved. Let’s use some of this other stuff to bring people in to reach them with the Gospel.” The problem is we have grown comfortable. We want church done the way we want it done to make us happy. But, that is not what we are to be about. We need to consider what it would take to reach others with the Gospel rather than what we want to see. After all, what do you call a group of like-minded people who attend meetings at a set place, pay their dues and want things to be done a certain way? A country club. That is not what we should be about.

Bands don’t have to do all modern, contemporary music exclusively. They can do hymns just as well. Hymns have been used for years. When Sir Isaac Watts first introduced the idea of singing in church, it was scandalous. Tradition today is making the same complaint against the up and coming changes taking place. The original concept behind singing the hymns was to teach people doctrine. Since most people could not read, a medium was needed to help them remember the truth of the Gospel. Singing stirs the memory. Today, most people can read, but they are unsure of how a hymnal works. There are four lines in each section of music, and they are even numbered. The casual observer can look at the words in a hymnal and come to the conclusion that they are to sing the first line then the second and so on. They wind up singing the wrong words. Whereas, if the words are on the screen, there is no doubt as to the order. Agreeably, the music is not there to follow, but how many people can sing the note on the page without knowing the song at least in part. We learn the rhythm, but don’t know the words. But, if they are on the screen… Additionally, putting words on the screen lifts everyone’s face up thus increasing the volume of the singer rather than having their face down in a book. Now my idea was to have both. There is no reason to rid the church of all traditional things. There needs to be a balance.

Balance is the key. Too much of anything is no good. If a church does only old hymns then they fail to reach a modern audience. If a church does only contemporary “radio music” they will often alienate the traditional members of the congregation. A balance must be found to keep tradition and to introduce the new to the old. A balance must be found to bring in new without forsaking the heritage. There must be a way to influence those we are trying to reach without alienating those we already have. In Church Where You Are, we will attempt to find the proper balance. We want to reach out from where we are to where the people are. We want to honor our heritage while still being modern and up to date. We want to share the Gospel Message in a relevant way with modern people without compromising the integrity of the message. The message has not changed. Jesus is still the only way to the Father. The delivery needs to reach a contemporary audience. This is the purpose of Church Where You Are.

Let us hear from you.

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