THE CHURCH HAS ALWAYS BEEN KNOW FOR KEEPING TRADITION. WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRADITION AND A LACK OF IMAGINATION
—Al Doyle Retrofit Advisors
Whenever I hear the word “tradition” my mind goes to Fiddler on the Roof and Tevya’s memorable song and dance. Deep down we all have an attraction to tradition. We honor the traditions of our families, country, and culture. We often seek new traditions to help carry our families into the future with a clear understanding of where they came from.
Traditions allow us to remember and honor the legacy of our forebearers and guide us into how we operate in the future. We carefully used the word “guide” because there is always a temptation to become a ‘slave to tradition.’ This can be a particularly seductive stumbling block for our church communities.
Avoid the Trap of “Tradition”
Our faith can be enlightened by celebrating and maintaining traditions. It is important to avoid the trap of thinking that we honor tradition by falling into the “we’ve always done it this way” trap. I find “we’ve always done it this way” some more concerning words in churchdom. Rather than honor tradition, that approach tends to venerate the past… often without sorting the good from the bad, or the relevant from the pointless.
Tradition is more than looking backward as a way of finding forward.
Tradition is recognizing the things that are IMPORTANT and ENLIGHTENING from our past that we can continue to have value or serve as inspiration.
The mindset we need is one of discernment. Examine and honor our faith histories. Our encouragement is for you to Seek out those practices, liturgies, and messages from your past and make them relevant for the present and provide instruction for the future. Sometimes this means dressing these traditions up in modern garb. Many traditions may just need some fresh language or music. Others can be maintained with all the historic trappings and truths. Just make sure you give your congregations the context that makes these traditions important and relevant.
We would love to hear from you about some traditions that you have preserved or re-formed for present use. Or share stories of how you moved on from traditions that were no longer understood or relevant.
Image Credit: pastorscott