Constraining Church Assumptions, Number 3

Mark Tidsworth, Pinnacle President

 Last week we began identifying assumptions we which constrain churches; the first two being….

1.       Worship is our first place of engagement with newcomers; literally and metaphorically our front door

2.      We can organize and plan our way into being a spiritually enlivened church

After looking at our list of 10 more constraining assumptions, we realized each assumption deserves more attention than simply existing in a list. So, in this and following e-news, we would like to describe them through brief, to-the-point-articles, one at a time. Here’s number three:

Innovating in how we are church is a negative judgement on how we have been church in the past

This common assumption is active and alive, if our recent experiences in the field are reliable indicators. Typically, it’s not articulated this directly. More often it’s the music below the lyrics. One scenario when this faulty constraining assumption rises to the surface is when a church is considering beginning another worship service. Perhaps they recognize not everyone in their community resonates with their way of worshiping, or that others for whom they are concerned don’t share the culture which shapes worship at their church. Several churches with whom we are working are reaching the 80% full marker in their current worship service, indicating a need for a second or third worship opportunity. Often, when discussing the prospect of another worship service is when this assumption is activated. “Well, what’s wrong with our current way of worshiping? Won’t they get comfortable with it when they get here and learn how we do things? Your interest in another approach to worship makes me think you don’t like the way we currently worship.” These statements are clear indicators we believe doing something innovative means what we have been doing is wrong, bad, less than, pitiful, or otherwise unhelpful.

Of course, when we bring this assumption to the light of day, it’s faultiness grows clear. Of course innovating in the present is not a judgment on the past. Change happens, change is normal, and change is actually healthy. Whatever we did back then was likely shaped by the needs and culture of the day. Because needs and culture change, along with our response, does not make what we did then wrong. Instead we are carrying on the tradition of responding effectively to the needs and culture of the day.

So, let’s lay this faulty, constraining assumption aside. Innovating in how we are church is a sign of life; often evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence among us.

Helen Renew