I’ve come to give greater value to a church’s identity and tradition. I guess that’s natural as we get older. Suddenly church isn’t an entity waiting for me to come and change it; it’s a place where I want to go be changed. Where I once thought that I was the one to set a vision and make that vision reality, I’m now more aware that my vision isn’t always God’s vision.
I’m also aware of the contrast between the tenure of the average minister and the roots that many families have within a congregation. Ministers typically come for 2, 5, or maybe 10 years; many families have participated in a congregation for ten times those numbers. If things don’t go well at a church, the minister leaves and heads somewhere else; in many congregations, that’s not a viable option for the members.
When we come to be part of a church, that church has an identity. If we feel it’s our mission to transform that identity, it’s likely that we’ve landed in the wrong place. Change can and will take place as we become more like Christ. But churches will have different ways of living out what it means to be Christ in their context. I now believe that we have to show some respect for how that has been done in the past. We don’t have to be tied to it, nor judged by it, but we do need to honor it.
I’ll flesh this out a bit more in some other posts. But I’d like to hear your thoughts. How do you view church culture and identity?