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The Trap of Tradition

Written by Ed Stetzer on . Posted in Ed Stetzer

Don't substitute the things we know for the things of God.

Traditions can be wonderful things.

They can create shared memories that remind those who participate in them of important events or truths.

Family Traditions

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen I have a standing appointment on the Saturday mornings I am home. In the summer, my daughters and I typically visit the yard sale with food, aka Cracker Barrel, and make the rounds of the garage sales nearby to see if anyone else’s junk should be our junk.

We don’t go to Cracker Barrel because we necessarily need pancakes (I don’t, I assure you), and we don’t go to yard sales because we need more stuff. Saturday mornings aren’t about the particular traditions, per se; they are about making sure my daughters understand how much I love them.

Our dates express to my children their importance to me. They affirm our relationship.

Someday (and I hope it’s not too soon), pancakes and garage sales may no longer be a useful method of communicating this message. When that time comes, I will need to let go of the tradition—even though it will be difficult for me—and develop new ways to continue to communicate that same message to my daughters.

When Tradition Loses Meaning

Continuing the tradition when my children think it is silly or it has lost meaning could actually have a negative impact. It could either become simply rote action or begin to taint the fond memories we have of our Saturday morning adventures.

The message is far too important to let the method of delivery affect its impact.

The same is certainly true of our churches and the message of the gospel entrusted to us. This can affect every type of church.

Defining Tradition

For sake of clarity, I am not speaking Tradition with a capital ...

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