I was talking with a member of my church the other day and I heard a statement that caused me to stop and think. We were talking about the sudden growth over the past several months of one churches in our local baptist association. Here is the statement that caused me to think, “They certainly are doing some unorthodox things down there.” I sort of smiled and made a few comments. That conversation really caused me to think about how we as “church people” may think about how other “church people” do ministry.
According to Webster, “orthodox” is defined as “adhering to what is commonly accepted”. So, Iwould have to believe that the label “unorthodox” would assert that someone or something is not adhering to what is commonly accepted. Tow questions come to mind. First, who has determined what is commonly accepted? Second, can this common acceptance be applied across the board to all church ministry?
This particular church is doing some out-of-the-box ministry. They are seeking some creative ways to reach people that other churches are not. Most of their ideas are new to our area. As a result, it is drawing attention. I believe this entire issue of whether or not this church, or any other church is doing something considered to be “unorthodox” depends solely on the lens you are looking through.
Here is what I mean. If a person is looking through the lens of ministry that worked in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and are still convinced that still works, to them that would be “orthodox” ministry. As a result, anything that is new and different, even if it is reaching people, will be considered “unorthodox”. Far too often, this where tradition creeps in and becomes the driving force of ministry rather than the true needs of people.
We as a New Testament church are in grave danger if we allow tradition to dictate “what is commonly accepted” as methods of ministry instead of allowing God’s Word, the felt needs of people, and the landscape of ouor culture to develop our ministry methods.