Having grown up in the 90’s and now living in 2016, I’ve seen many aspects of our culture here in America change. I remember riding my bicycle without a helmet, drinking water from a garden hose and riding in the back of a pickup truck. These things are now considered “unacceptable” by today’s societal standards. I also remember combing over my hair before school, checking my flip phone for texts and listening to The Red Hot Chili Peppers. These things are now outdated.
Our cultural norms and standards of what is “ok” and what is “not ok” change. They always have and always will.
Another thing I’ve seen change over my short 23-year span here on earth is standards or expectations on how a church service is held. I grew up in a very traditional Christian Reformed (a specific denomination of Christianity) church. My family dressed up every Sunday morning, found our spot in the pews and stood up or sat down depending on whether the pastor was speaking or we were singing hymns along with the choir. The pastor wore a suit, the lights were always on and there were no screens. There is nothing necessarily right or wrong, good or bad about these things. It’s just how it was.
Today’s church culture is vastly different than the one I grew accustomed to. Pastors don’t always wear suits, the lights aren’t always on and you won’t get pinched by your mom or dad for using your phone during the service – Bible app for the win. Many churches now cater to the younger generation and feel more like a concert than a traditional service to the veteran church-goer. There are now hip clothes, drums, electric guitars and the occasional YouTube video during a service. It’s safe to say, things aren’t the way they used to be in church culture.
One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the gospel message. The Bible. God has provided us with this timeless salvation story. This is the story in which Jesus Christ, the son of God, came down from Heaven, died the death that we deserved and saved us from eternal damnation. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
That is of utmost importance. It is important that this story never changes. We should never dilute it or add to it. It does not matter that the music is louder and the lights are dimmer. Those things will continue to change and adapt to whatever society deems “normal.” We should not let those changes divide us as believers. We should be united knowing that the other believers around us have their faith and hope in the same promises that we do – that Jesus will come again. John 14:1-3 Ephesians 4:1-5
Here is a quote from Roger Flynn, church manager of Zootown Church – the church I attend in Missoula, MT. “We’re different than some of the other churches in town, we don’t do anything that would be traditional. We try to avoid tradition in the sense that we don’t want to just do church to do church. We want to do church to reach the city of Missoula.”
It would be detrimental for Christians to “do church to do church.” That is religion for religion’s sake instead of pursuing a real, meaningful relationship with Jesus. Then, when we pursue Jesus together, we can unite to reach the unbelievers in our communities just as we were called to do. Mark 16:15
So, I hope on this Easter Sunday you were able to celebrate and share the resurrection story of Jesus in unity with believers and unbelievers, whether or not you were comfortable with how dim the lights were or how tight the jeans were. Culture is ever-changing and we will all be uncomfortable with some standards at one point or another. Let’s look beyond that – culture changes, the story doesn’t.
If you’re not a believer, I pray that you give a church in your community a chance. Not because you have to go to be considered a good person but because they will, hopefully, introduce you to a relationship with Jesus that will change your eternal future. Romans 10:9-13
By: Nate Christoffels