God’s Glory and Grandma's Traditions

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The very thing that you hold up as a tool for transformation today can easily become an idol of tradition tomorrow.

He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it.

2 Kings 18:4

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

The bronze snake had at one time been an instrument of transformation. It healed people. Saved them from the consequences of their sin. But then the people turned it into an object of worship. And thereby ruined it and robbed it of its power.

This is the essence of traditionalism. It’s not simply holding onto Grandma’s preferences. It’s when we take things. Good things. Effective things. And we end up worshiping them instead of the God who used them for a season. And it can happen to anything.

Hymns. Or modern worship.

Live preaching. Or video preaching.

One campus. Or multiple campuses.

Sunday school. Or small groups.

None of these are bad things, but they’re also not the ultimate thing. And therefore, we shouldn’t treat them as such.

Otherwise, we run a dangerous risk. The very thing you hold up as a tool for transformation today can easily become an idol of tradition tomorrow.

And God has a way of smashing our idols. Or rendering them powerless.

Don’t get me wrong. We should never lose our appreciation or respect for the things God uses to reach people and transform their lives.

But we should also never allow them to steal God’s glory by becoming a greater object of our affections than God or the new ways He wants to work among us.

God’s glory is greater than Grandma’s traditions.

And our own as well.

Steven Furtick Steven Furtick is the founder and lead pastor of Elevation Church, based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Elevation Church meets at eight locations in the Charlotte area, as well as one location in Toronto, Canada. The church has been named one of the Fastest Growing Churches in America by Outreach Magazine for each of the past six years. Pastor Steven has been privileged to minister to a global audience, speaking at conferences and churches around the world including Catalyst Conference, Hillsong Conference, and the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. He is the author of the New York Times® Best Selling book, "Greater" and the national bestseller "Sun Stand Still". Pastor Steven holds the Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey.

More from Steven Furtick or visit Steven at http://www.stevenfurtick.com

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  • Scott Dossett

    Let’s add something to your story to make it more applicable to church. You now have 3 children. Your oldest son who loves playing baseball so much decides that baseball is the *only* thing that he and his siblings should play with you. In fact, playing baseball is “good” while playing football or Monopoly or the XBox is “bad.” One day your daughter gets out her tea set and heads in to play with Dad. Her older brother stops her, grabs her tea set and smashes it on the floor. “Tea sets are idols” he says. “The only true and appropriate form of intimacy with Dad is baseball,” he explains over her tears. So your daughter goes off to a new house to find a new Daddy and makes it a household rule that the only appropriate form of intimacy is the tea party.

    It’s not the “traditional” that’s the problem, it’s the “ism.” The problem is when those things we love become ideals and mandates that separate us from others and hinder others from a healthy view of and relationship with God. That’s when they become idols, when they become dangerous. Some people might need a smidgen of castigation for that.

  • Dr Shirley Lynn

    I also see little results today that grandma had years ago so stop using grandma and take a good look at are you really changing lives like grandma and the grandpa preacher of years ago NO!

  • Scott Dossett

    Take a decibel reading and you may well find that the volume of your worship band is not radically different from your blaring pipe organ when you add in congregational singing.

  • Peter Mahoney

    Sounds like what he did was right… at least from my vantage point. In your scenario, you’ve got 2 churches, 2 faith families, neither having having any integrity because they are functionally divided over worship style and express that division every Sunday. Given those simple circumstances, I would have done much the same thing and if anyone wanted to leave for those reasons, so be it. Now, there are ways to do those things… slowly and gently… teaching and admonishing as I go. But in the end, if a person is connected because of something they like (I.e. a preference) and leave when something new is introduced, that is not the mark of a committed Christ-Follower or covenant church member.

    If McDonald’s stops serving the Big Mac, I probably won’t go back. That’s business. Churches function not to cater, but to see people transformed by the Gospel and equipped to become one who impacts. Methods and music change… the gospel and the principles that govern church are timeless.

    • debra roland

      Not going back to a service with a loud sound system and drums and electric guitars blasting is also because of having seizure disorder. But oh, my bad, I’m not being a good Christian. Judge away folks!

      • Peter Mahoney

        If the music causes you to have seizures… and the medications can’t control them, then I guess some difficult decisions must be made. That said, I would fight tooth and nail to make almost any other choice. But that’s because I believe “church” is about community and not worship gatherings (which are vital).

        2 final thoughts… first, service isn’t something you attend, it’s something you do. Second, no one is “judging” you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mccoy.margaret Margaret McCoy

    I have 15 grandchildren and a number of others who claim me as their nana. I teach a Sunday Morning Adult class. (We are having one baptized soon). I also have a small group of ten that I call or text or e-mail as the Lord allows me. My groups run from their 20’s to age 77 and we all love Jesus and worship the Lord God in Heaven with all of our heart. We of The Remnant at Word of Faith Church in Buford welcome Grandma’s and pa’s and everyone else. Come and see. Senior’s Pastor Margaret

  • HappyDance

    I find it intruguing when we begin talking about grandma’s traditions… it stirs up people… makes them call names and become defensive…I think you have exposed some idols… I agree with your article wholeheartedly…I have experienced this living in Rural America…and to be honest it repulses me… we wonder why Church is dying…because we no longer worship Christ we worship “Church” we worship “SELF” in Church… WeLL SAID… I dont think this article is pointless…It is right on point… HEY pastors I challenge you…show up to your Church on a sunday Morning and totally change the service…one from Contemporary to tradtional and traditional to contemporary… we should be able to worship God no matter the style…but i garuntee your job will probably be threatened the next elders meeting…if not then you have a healthy Church…

  • happy dance

    one more thing…WE have made American Church tooo comfortable… wayyyyy tooo comfortable… where people are being lulled to sleep by their idols… that is why we are in the place we are today… inneffective…Church is a living and breathing organism a body with many parts…that should always be transforming…not an organization that looks the same year after year after year…Worship should be a process of transformation in our lives…no matter the music…