Give me that old time religion?

You know the old gospel song, right? There are many different variations of the verses that can be sung with this chorus, from “It was good for our mothers,” to “It was tried in the fiery furnace.” But the chorus doesn’t change all that much:

Give me that old time religion,
Give me that old time religion,
Give me that old time religion,
It’s good enough for me!

Catchy, isn’t it? If you are anything like me, you’ll find yourself humming or singing it now for the next several days. Sorry.

Most of you know that I am not an “old-time religion” kind of guy. I am constantly striving to find a voice for faith in our modern culture. And I don’t believe that doing something simply because it worked in the past is a sufficient reason. So, why “old-time religion?” Because I think it is also vital to our lives together. The founders of our denomination built a church that has two focuses, reform and restoration.

The reformation part of their focus leads (in the best circumstances) to a faith that is always seeking after a deeper understanding of our relationship with the God Who Is. This part of our church culture is leading us ever forward to new discoveries, to a deep engagement in the lives of the communities in which we live and serve, and keeps our gaze focused on God, and toward the future.

The restoration part of their focus maintains a strong allegiance to the historical faith that has been passed down through the centuries. Yes, restoration speaks to the renewed relationships between ourselves, others and God, but it also focuses us on the past. Restoration is the rudder that keeps us from veering away from a deeply rooted faith in Christ.

I was looking back over old newsletter articles and found that it’s been almost 5 years since we started going without technology on the 5th Sundays. That prompted me to wonder if anyone (including myself) remembered WHY we started that practice. We started returning to our worship roots all those years ago as a reminder to stay connected to our history, while at the same time striving toward innovation and relevance in an ever-changing culture.

I don’t know how efficient our practice is, but it does help me remember that my faith and worship are built on the foundation of the generations who have gone before me. Simply changing for the sake of change is not healthy. However, neither is the “we’ve never done it that way before” mentality. I believe that we are best-served when we stretch toward the future while standing firmly on the foundation of the past. This keeps us connected to the vitality of our history, while maintaining a healthy focus on the issues and concerns of the times.

I’d love to hear from you. What new things would you like to see us try in our worship and fellowship? What historical practices would you like to see us reclaim?

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