Planting Missional Churches 2: Tradition vs. Technique (the sequel)

I’m doing a few series kind of interacting with and starting discussions about themes in some books on church planting. This series comes out of “Planting Missional Churches” by Ed Stetzer.

In my last post I mentioned Stetzer’s discussion of tradition versus technique, and how he says that a church can rely too much on tradition, which will make the church irrelevant.

He then goes on to write (and this is probably much more relevant to most of our churches) that a church can rely on technique to an unhealthy extreme. He says that techniques are an expression of mission, but when our techniques work we can sometimes let them replace the mission.

That is a great statement. If you think about churches that are now irrelevant, old-timey traditional churches, I bet when they started they were relevant, new-timey churches. At the time, organs were cool, polyester was hip, Sunday School and VBS were cutting edge, the hymn on page 138 was all the rage on KLOVE, and the King James was considered the edgy new translation.

That church chose all those techniques because they were the most effective way to accomplish the mission. And those techniques worked. But somehow the church didn’t notice when everything started smelling musty. They were so confident in their techniques, that they were effective, that God’s blessing was on them, that they never noticed that their techniques had become traditions, and that somehow what was once a means to an end had become the end itself. The church now existed to carry on it’s traditions.

And the difference with us is … well, probably nothing. We fall in our love with our methods. We become whores of our techniques as well. We have the same blind spots. And, as Stetzer writes, our increasing attendance can give us a false sense that what we’re doing is (still) working, when in reality lost people are not being reached, and even the few that are really aren’t being discipled and transformed.

So what are the techniques that you’re sold out to, and may continue to employ long after they’re effective? Small groups? Postcard advertising? Rocking worship music? Sermons with alliterated points? Wearing ripped jeans and cool t-shirts?

Seriously, what do you think yours’/ours’ are?

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