by Neil Anderson
No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old
Determining the purpose of a Christian practice, and whether it is appropriate, requires an answer to the question, “Why?” “We have always done it this way before” is unacceptable. Christian practices continue for years, often outliving their purpose, until someone asks, “Why do we do that?” Characteristically, the defenses come up as though you were challenging what they believe!
For instance, having three church services a week is generally practiced by evangelical Christians, but few know why. Originally, Sunday morning was for instruction and worship, Sunday evening was for evangelism, and the Wednesday service was for prayer. Today few churches have three services for those same purposes. In many churches, evangelism has switched to Sunday morning (if there is an evangelistic service). Sunday evenings range from body life gatherings to an informal repeat of the morning service. Wednesday stopped being a prayer meeting years ago in most churches.
Few people can say why they have an adult fellowship group and, consequently, most never fulfill the greatest purpose for which they exist. Without a clear purpose, planning dribbles down to who is going to be the teacher and what is the next monthly social! The purpose of fellowship groups is to provide a base for incorporating new people into the church, going after those who stray, and meeting the needs of one another. Routine activities that lack purpose produce mindless participation. How is God going to guide such a group?
The greatest avenue for productive change is to clarify the purpose of any existing ministry or group. I sat with the leaders of an adult group and helped them hammer out a purpose statement. Some major changes took place in their class. Within two years they had doubled. Asking “Why?” forced them to evaluate their purpose and ministry, and necessary changes came.
Prayer: Lord, I purpose not to waste my time or effort on traditions that are no longer valid vehicles for ministry.