I have come to learn from experience that "questioners" come from basically two camps. The first group sees things as they are and ask, "Why can't they be the way they used to be?" The second group sees things the way they are and ask, "Why can't we be like those guys?" Usually the second groups referring to some radical fringe element of the 21st century church. I have experienced that in just the last few days. Comments and "personal" letters are always questioning the way we do things at DBBC. And that's OK. Significant leaps forward have always come from elements in the church who question why.
Martin Luther asked why people had to come to the church for forgiveness. Galileo asked why the church insisted that the earth was at the center of the universe when all scientific and mathematical evidence came to other conclusions. Both of these men learned an important lesson; "Questioners" are not welcome in the established church! That's why I try and not dismiss those who question a decision or a resulting action I make at church. I certainly do not claim "ex-cathedra" dogmatism as did Luther's superiors. I understand that sometimes the voice of God may become more clear as He speaks through those who are legitimate "questioners" and not just mal-contents. While I believe God gives the vision of the church to the person He has called to lead, namely the pastor, I also believe that others who are in touch with the Spirit of God can also help shed some light on the path where the vision is leading.
I write this just to say that I am always evaluating the effectiveness of what we do at DBBC in light of the vision God has given. No program or practice is ever written in stone. I am aware that what worked just a couple of years ago may not be effective today. One of the things I respect about Ed Young Jr. at Fellowship Church in Dallas is his willingness to adapt. Most recently I noticed his dress was changing to a more formal look (sport coat and slacks) from his previously more casual attire (jeans and a t-shirt). In a recent email from his Creative Pastors web site he noted that recently he had a come-forward invitation and over 700 either re-dedicated their lives to Christ or became followers of Christ for the first time. I doubt that this will become the norm, but I'm sure he is aware, as I have become, that contemporary today is traditional tomorrow. I think our Lord set the pattern as He has always been careful not to repeat Himself. He destroyed the world once with water. He is going to use fire the next time. He only spoke through one burning bush and one stubborn mule. Jesus would heal a blind man by just declaring His sight to be restored and the next time He would make mud out of spit and dust and place the salve on a blind man's eyes. Oh yeah, and the cross, that only happened once too. I think God gave us the pattern. Keep people on their toes. Don't be different for the sake of being different but for the sake of effectiveness. Mix things up. Pull some things from the past to re-invent them in the future. Don't imitate others. Make others want to imitate you.
These are some things I've been thinking as God has brought people in my life who are willing to question, "Why?" So watch for tweaks in the ways things are done. Pray that God has the freedom at DBBC to do what He needs to accomplish His vision and hang on.
In His Shadow,