Tradition: Good or Bad?

Churches have many traditions.  Some good and useful.  Others are hindrances to reaching the next generation for Christ.

It is written in Matthew 15:1-3, 7-9…

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them,”And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 “‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; 9 in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”

Traditions became such for good reason… they were practices that helped form a cohesive community to good conduct and living that honors God. Those traditions are practices that should be kept and continued.  Tradition, in and of its self, is not necessarily a bad thing.

Traditions can also be a bane that keep people from moving forward to better and more effective practices that help them magnify and glorify God.  For some, traditions are a source of comfort, safety, and predictability in a quickly changing world.  For others, those same traditions are like trying to drink an 12 ounce glass of buttermilk… straight… with no chaser.

I’ve found that when young people or couples are confronted with a tradition that doesn’t make sense to them, they don’t ask why the tradition continues… they don’t try to change it… they just quietly go somewhere else (Or nowhere else). And those in favor of the tradition either don’t care, don’t know what happened, or are feel affirmed that they are honoring God.  But they certainly haven’t considered Jesus’ words from Matthew 15 (Above).

These are some traditions that don’t make sense to younger Christians (!).  Don’t get mad at the messenger (Me), I’m just writing what younger Christians have been saying…

“Choirs… wearing robes… sitting behind the pastor as he preaches… REALLY?”

“Attending a Sunday night worship service is not proof of my love for or maturity in Christ.”

“A denominational tag isn’t as important as encountering God in worship and hearing a solid Bible message from the preacher.”

“Things like Women’s Missionary Union, RAs, GAs, Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting, and Monday Night Visitation don’t define my walk with Christ and community ministry.”

“What a person wears to church is not what bringing your best for God means.  It is the condition of the heart that matters,  not having on a suit or dress.”

Then… when it comes to worship style and selection of music… they just don’t connect with the way some churches do it.  So they go somewhere else.

Again, when people are confronted with traditions that don’t make sense to them… they don’t buck the system… they either go somewhere else or nowhere at all.  The question… the really hard question… is this: Is the Church willing to do whatever it takes (Addressing traditions that hinder) to reach the next generation without compromising the Gospel.

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5 comments on “Tradition: Good or Bad?

  1. Duke says:

    I would be curious to know what traditions matter. And, how you differentiate between those that do matter and those that do not. For example, in my church we have a tradition of reading God’s Word in worship. Does that matter, and why?

    • pastorron7 says:

      Great question! Obviously reading Scripture is affirmed in Scripture as proper for worship. I wouldn’t call that a “tradition” so much as being obedient to Scripture. You are blessed to attend a church that has that kind of traditions.

      However… singing happy birthday to everyone who’s turned a year older each month… during worship… is a tradition that has no place in worship (I know a church that has done this for well over75 years.). Nothing like leaving church after hearing the Word with “Happy birthday” ringing in your ears! Singing Happy Birthday in worship is not a good tradition.

      Further down in the post I write about a few things that some have suggested they don’t understand as defining walking with Christ (What time the church meets… what is worn… etc). It seemed obvious from the Scripture I quoted that any ongoing practice that sets aside God’s Word, or conflicts with it, is a tradition that needs opposing. I believe there are many things that get in the way of people coming to Christ and worshiping Him. What those are would most likely fall into the “case by case” basis… through prayer.

      It would be interesting to hear how the staff of the church you attend determine what they will and will not lead the church to do because they do not want to start a tradition to have to deal with later.

  2. Joan says:

    Loved the film clip!

  3. Lynn McIntosh says:

    I forwarded this to my Sunday School teacher who is also our deacon. Thanks Ron!

  4. Paschal Steed says:

    I have added this to my “favorites list”. Thanks.

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