Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Death of Orthodoxy Part 2

We are products of our culture. Regardless of how much you would like to think you have escaped the snare of the culture around you, you are immersed in something that has formed you. As Christians we know that our role in the culture is to be counter-culture, and live the ways of Jesus over and above the ways of this world. We are not supposed to be people who disconnect from the culture and try to hide from it in an effort to be holy. The Amish have attempted to do this. They don't live with electricity or phones and many other things we would consider normal because they are trying to live "set apart." The problem is this, the culture is so consuming that even the Amish can't escape it. You see, the Amish often have businesses in which they sell the goods they produce to the world outside of their farms. If you venture into an Amish dairy farm you will notice quickly just how difficult it is to escape culture. They have regulations they have to meet which requires them to conform to the rules. They have a phone located in the facility. They have particular equipment and machines. They follow the rules. Even the Amish, who try to live untainted by the culture, cannot escape the power of the culture around them.

So here's where I'm going with this. In my travels the last three weeks to other churches, I have seen many different styles, sizes, and types of churches. I have seen churches meeting in traditional buildings, warehouses, and schools. The one glaring thing that has stood out to me in my visits to these churches is the overwhelming, undeniable effect that culture has played on what the churches are doing. I'm not talking about the use of video, having heat and air, or sitting in chairs, rather, I'm talking about what seems to be a Bible anemic, commitment lacking, consumer product. At many of my visits I never heard the Bible preached. Often when it was used it was referenced to support the ideas and examples the pastor had mentioned, instead of the text of Scripture providing the points. I witnessed worship time that resembled concert performances more than participational worship. Communion was not served at any of the places that I visited, which has become something in the American church that seems to have been made into an "occasional" ordinance of the church, instead of what it was always viewed as by the apostles and early church: essential.

The culture has played an undeniable role in shaping our churches. Not all of this is bad, but not all of it is good. I believe it is okay to use and redeem some of cultures advancements and technology to allow the gospel message to be further spread; however, there are some things in the church that should be non-negotiable, unchanging, and staples of our gospel communities: participatory worship that brings glory to God through both its content and spirit, preaching of the Bible as the centerpiece of our messages and not man's wisdom or humor as the central component, the practice of taking Communion/Lord's Supper regularly (some churches perform more skits in a year than they take Communion), and a spirit of unity and community, not a feeling of attending a show, performance, or concert. Some of the things that separate churches who demonstrate these and those who don't are small and subtle things. At the end, we should be desirous of seeing our churches glorify our Father and His Son, as we carried by and united by the power of the Spirit. The design of a church is to never glorify a pastor, a worship leader, to impress or satisfy attendees, or to lift technology or creativity over and above Jesus. To bring glory to God and share His gospel is why gather and exist as churches.

These things, things I've mentioned before, and other things not wrote here are why I believe there has been a Death of Orthodoxy. I desire to lead the church I pastor and participate with to honor God in staying true to the things that are not on the table for debate and if needed, stand as a voice crying out in the wilderness for repentance.


  1. Erik, I totallly agree. In my recent quest to find a church, I had a few things that were non-negotiable. The Lords Supper was at the top of my list. That is a must in our worship as it was commanded by the Lord but it also keeps us grounded in the fact that it is to be done in remembrance of the sacrifice that was made for us. I appreciate that you are willing to make a stand for whats right with God no matter how popular that view may be. Its truly an inspiration to me.

  2. Tansy, I appreciate your thoughts. It isn't always easy to do the right thing because there is a pressure to "compete" with other churches in order to stay on the cutting edge; however, I'm realizing that preaching the Bible is one way that The Journey can stand apart from culture-produced churches. I'm starting to ramble, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that we are doing some good things at our church that we need to keep doing and focus on lifting Jesus up continually.

    I'm glad you landed at The Journey, and in our small group ;-)