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  • John Whitehead

Tradition and Relevance

The Church today is at a bit of a crossroads.

The desire for tradition and the hope things will remain the same has created a situation where the influence of the local church is waning with each passing year. Many smaller congregations are getting smaller as people hold fast to those traditions believing their way is the only way.

At the same time, we see other churches who are striving for relevance. They are doing so with the belief relevance will increase their impact as they become more and more like the world.

This phenomenon is real and held with intense passion and deep sincerity by both groups.

The problem associated with these positions is we have begun to see a Church where the importance of tradition has replaced the desire for influence and the desire for greater impact has made relevance the primary focus.

The question is why do these things matter so much to so many? As the Church changes and smaller traditional churches are being replaced by larger ones, are we really gaining influence and increasing the impact of the Church in our world?

Your vantage point is where you will derive your answer to these questions.

If you are a traditionalist your point of view will be different than someone who does not hold to your tradition. If you are a cultural relativist you will no doubt have a different view, perhaps believing if we do not reflect our world, we cannot possibly relate to it or reach it.

Regardless, we need to understand the Church is not subject to our views, desires, and whims. The Church is the “Body of Christ” and will not be shackled by tradition or subverted by a need for relevance.

“Tradition and relevance” will not increase the influence or impact of the Church. The Holy Spirit will do that when His Church is reflecting Him to the world.

This is where we, as the Church must align our thinking. Then our influence will always have the impact it was created to have.

Romans 16:17,I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.”


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John presents his own storied past, struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, mistakes in business due to lack of role models, family history challenged by divorce, violence and abuse.

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