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I found this at www.worshiptogether.com. Boy, does it speak my heart. Read on...

WHEN MEMORIES ARE GREATER THAN DREAMS

Date Posted : 6-25-2001

Subject : The Church of the Blessed Memory

Author : Greg Morris

Link : www.leadershipdynamics.org

"A church is in danger of death when it begins to worship its own past, when it is more concerned with forms than with life; when it is more concerned with material than it is with spiritual things." How can we recognize if we're in the danger zone of traditionalism?

"I'm convinced that making decisions and controlling what happens is more important in established churches than making disciples." William M. Easum

"But he 'Samson' did not know that the Lord had left him." Judges 16.20 NIV

In the musical "Fiddler on the Roof," the hard working Jewish dairyman Tevye relates that the lives of everyone in the comfortable community of Anatevka are governed by tradition. Tevye addresses the audience and speaks these words: "Our traditions tell us what to wear, what to eat. Our traditions tell us to wear prayer cloths. Our traditions tell us what to believe. 'Where do you get your traditions?' you may ask. I'll tell you...

I don't know!"

All too often, just as Tevye articulated, ministries and organizations lose their purpose as well. What began as a clear-cut mission or calling slowly drifts from the original directive. What was once motivated by purpose and meaning, now has become mechanical and routine and in the process the vitality is lost. Like an aging athlete basking in the victories of yesterday, organizations can begin resting on past accomplishments and reputations. The identity, personality and purpose of the organization become wrapped up in the experiences and glories of the 'good old days' and unknowingly we become the "Church of the Blessed Memory."

As leaders we must respect and understand our organization's history and legacy. These experiences have shaped and molded the body into what it is today. But we cannot spend more time looking through the rear view mirror than the windshield. Past experience will never be sufficient to meet the needs of the present reality. We need fresh insights derived from a daily walk with the Savior.

William Barclay has observed, "A church is in danger of death when it begins to worship its own past, when it is more concerned with forms than with life; when it is more concerned with material than it is with spiritual things." How can we recognize if we're in the danger zone of traditionalism? Here are some ideas:

1. We Begin to Worship our History. Although we need a proper understanding, appreciation and respect for our history, we mustn't worship it. If we hold on to the past long after the passion and fervor has gone we paralyze the present and sacrifice current opportunities. Remember Mark Twain's insight: 'Sacred cows make the best hamburger.' (And Bart was heard to say, "AMEN")

2. We Begin to be More Concerned with Forms than with Function. Too many organizations exist only as monuments to past glory, celebrating appearance rather than substance. Smoke and mirrors are no substitute for quality leadership.

3. We Begin to be More Concerned with Management than with Ministry. In an effort to maintain our traditions and administrative regularity, we become "gatekeepers" rather than "trailblazers." And by so doing, we fail to impact the lives of those around us.

4. We are More Concerned with Numbers than with Spiritual Quality. Spiritual growth is sacrificed for a theology of "nickels and noses."

5. Motion is Substituted for Direction. We turn up the heat on the activity level in an effort to replace our lost enthusiasm and intensity. Activities for their own sake are no substitute for passionate, purposeful direction. George Santayana recognized that 'fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.'

Churches and ministries lose their effectiveness when their memories are greater than their dreams. We need to keep constant check on the pulse of our organization as well as ourselves as we continually evaluate our purpose, mission and direction. Is it time for a mid-course correction?

By Greg Morris Courtesy of http://www.leadershipdynamics.org