For My people have committed two evils: they have abandoned Me, the fountain of living waters, to carve out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that do not hold water. – Jeremiah 2:13
Whether a church is contemporary, liturgical, blended, or emerging (choose the latest marketing description), most maintain some form of tradition. Such “practices” are not necessarily bad or wrong, but they are more likely embedded in our history and culture. Many of our traditions keep us rooted in deeply held orthodox belief and therefore play an important role in standing against the flood of societal change that, if possible, would drown out our message.
The danger with some traditions is in holding onto them even when they no longer aid in spiritual advance. A living, vibrant, relevant walk with Christ requires consistent attention and it is possible for a practice or habit to become a ritual that has lost any vibrant spiritual meaning beyond an empty sentimentalism. While such traditions may maintain their emotional value, they often need to be revisited to regain their original purpose.
When a long-held tradition becomes a practice that has lost its meaning, it needs to be replaced (or at least repaired), because it can no longer “hold water.” And, in the spirit of Christ-like fellowship, may we allow each generation (and culture) to develop its own practices (within biblical guidelines) for the greater glory of God.
Forms and rituals do not produce worship, nor does the disuse of forms and rituals. We can use all the right techniques and methods, we can have the best possible liturgy, but we have not worshiped the Lord until Spirit touches spirit. – Richard J. Foster