the changing church, please?

stephen shields points out a great quote from yo-yo ma, quoted on noel heikkenen’s blog:

“Any tradition that doesn’t evolve becomes smaller.”

stephen goes on to mention another quote by john murray:

“However epochal have been the advances made at certain periods and however great the contributions of particular men we may not suppose that theological construction ever reaches definitive finality. There is the danger of a stagnant traditionalism and we must be alert to this danger, on the one hand, as to that of discarding our historical moorings, on the other.

When any generation is content to rely upon its theological heritage and refuses to explore for itself the riches of divine revelation, then declension is already under way and heterodoxy will be the lot of the succeeding generation…. A theology that does not build on the past ignores our debt to history and naively overlooks the fact that the present is conditioned by history. A theology that relies on the past evades the demands of the present.”

which reminds me of a quote i’m using in my closing session talk at the national youth workers conventions, which i got from the great book, the shaping of things to come. quote from hans kung:

a church which pitches its tents without constantly looking out for new horizons, which does not continually strike camp, is being untrue to its calling…. [We must] play down our longing for certainty, accept what is risky, live by improvisation and experiment.

4 thoughts on “the changing church, please?”

  1. amen.
    by the way, thanks for referring that book to me. it is challenging and frustrating trying to live and do youth ministry missionally in a church culture that is yet to have any idea what i am talking about.
    the shaping of things to come though, has challenged me to start by examining my own life before i start on everyone else.

    peace.

  2. We (the leaders of my church= the pastor and I) are struggling with the congregation to impart change. It is very difficult in some cultures because they somehow have ingrained in their head the way they think a church should be, which is old fashioned and traditional, while we are trying to be more relevent in these changing times. It’s hard because we don’t want to “chase away” any of our members, but at the same time, we don’t want to use them as an excuse to stay the same. I think that maybe the main problem is that people don’t really understand the purpose of church. The church isn’t for you and me, but for US. It’s the fellowshipping of believers, not “I go to get fed by the message and then I go home”. It’s become self-serving, when it’s supposed to be about sharing and learning from eachother and being more open and vulnerable. When people change their mentality from “What am I going to get from God in church today?” to “What can I give of myself in church today?”, that is when change can happen. Did I go off on a tangent, or is this the type of discussion you were looking for? I dont know, but I think I’m going to say something after worship about it now!

  3. The tension of building on and being REALLY connected to the past (i.e. the last 2000 years of the church)…and…being able to move and pitch your tent elsewhere is very difficult (as history shows). But…I think it is worth the effort.

    Good stuff.

  4. I love that book. On my evaluation I said you guys should get Alan or Michael to come speak at the convention next year.

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