Thursday, December 1, 2011

What's the point of sermons or passing the plate? (Part 8: Values & Practices Unpacked)

Before I post the next handful of blogs about our defining practices, it's crucial that I put things in perspective.

The core values I've already blogged about are crucial and required. They are what drive us as a church. The handful of defining practices I'm going to blog about are NOT held at the same level. They are merely our best guess on how to live out our core values.

Yes, biblical examples support each of the practices and I'll explain why we chose them. But they are not required by scripture. And if we're not clear on what takes priority (core values vs. defining practices), we could end up in the same mess we're trying get out of.

We could end up "sanctifying" particular practices and forgetting the reasons behind them.  For example...

We could end up fixating on the lecture-style sermon as the "right" methodology for teaching and forget that the Bible calls us to teach and develop each other, not to a particular way of teaching.

We could end up passing an offering plate so our members' finances can be collected in a general bank account, forgetting that the apostles didn't have general bank accounts. How funds are collected and distributed affects how believers think about their giving (more on that in the coming post on Member-Driven Funding).

Sermons and general funds are not bad or wrong. But they aren't necessarily better than other teaching or funding methods, either. The Bible certainly doesn't require those methods. Determining which method is best requires the point behind the method. The values should always drive the practices.

So, while it's important to clarify how your values show up practically, I will happily change any of the defining practices when I learn a better way to live out our core values.  In fact, I have changed some of our defining practices since first launching member-driven churches.

The habits of a church do matter a whole lot. But, for us, they'll always be just our best guess, not a holy requirement.

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