Thursday, April 28, 2011
I Got the Spirit, How About You?
One of the cheers we often chanted went something like “We got the spirit, yes we do, we got the spirit, how about you?” This would be chanted by one class, and another class would have to respond. Whoever shouted the loudest was considered to have the most school spirit and therefore “won” the pep rally. When I think about those pep rallies, twenty-five years later, it occurs to me that we were all cheering for the same team. We were all there to show our support for the team and encourage them to play hard and bring home the trophy. It really did not matter who was the loudest. But back then it sure seemed important to win the pep banner and show the most school spirit.
I think this “we got the spirit, how about you” attitude sometimes creeps into the church. In my role as the Director for the Green Mountain Baptist Association I work with all kinds of churches. Some churches follow a more traditional path to worshipping and serving the Lord. Other churches follow a more innovative path. Still others are seeking to combine elements of both traditional and innovative ways to worship and serve the Lord. Like high school students, we tend to hang out with people in our own “class” and we tend to think our class has a lock on how the Spirit wants us to cheer on the saints to worship and service. At times it seems that we are acting more like high school students at a pep rally instead of mature leaders in the church of Jesus Christ.
I know many traditional pastors who think that innovative pastors have watered down the bible and abandoned biblical principles in their effort to be innovative. Those more traditional pastors have seldom actually talked to those more innovative pastors to learn why they use the methods that they do. I know many innovative pastors who think traditional pastors have quenched the Spirit and are riding a dead horse into the ground. Those innovative pastors fail to recognize the many lives that are being changed through more traditional churches. I know many pastors who are caught somewhere in the middle and are afraid to share their real ideas about these matters with anyone because they are not sure how those ideas will be received. Such pastors tend to drift back and forth between one group or another never really fitting in completely. This makes them feel less fulfilled in their ministry than they should.
It seems to me that maybe we should stop acting like self-centered teens who want to “win” and instead focus on serving the Lord in the way that He leads us to. While I acknowledge that some traditional pastors may have indeed quenched the Spirit, there are others who are deeply in love with Jesus and serving Him with passion through traditional ways. Likewise, I know some innovative pastors who have taken far too many liberties with the bible in their efforts to be contextual. However, I also know many who have searched the scriptures and the things they are doing that look “innovative” are often simply ancient practices of the church re-packaged for a more modern clientele. I know a large number of pastors who fall somewhere in the middle, mixing what they perceive are the best practices of the traditional with the innovative. Though some of them may just be trying to ride a wave of human opinion, most are genuinely focused on finding the best way to reach out to a culture that increasingly sees the church as irrelevant.
Perhaps we would be more productive if we stopped judging each other and instead rejoiced when we see a fellow pastor leading his congregation to worship and serve in a way that is different than how we do it. Since we are all on the same team, we should rejoice when someone discovers a way to engage a group of people that we have not been successful in reaching. God is pretty big and He does not fit into a box of our own creation. The lostness of our nation is too great for us to fight among ourselves; we should recommit ourselves to being team players even if our position on the team is different than those around us. It takes all of us to reach the many different types of people in our society. Together, as a team, we can join God in His work and reach all those whom He is calling to Himself.
For more devotionals like this one, consider Touching the Footprints of Jesus.