Are Traditions Bad?


Many in contemporary churches brush aside tradition – myself included. We pride ourselves on rejecting ancient practices in order to remain relevant in an ever changing world. We upgrade our sound systems, preach through catchy sermon series, and capture the emotions of those in our churches.

None of that is bad, but I would argue we are making a grave mistake by blindly discarding the value of tradition.

When it comes to Christianity, tradition has numerous benefits. Although you may not find all traditions life-giving, it is foolish and arrogant to assume that those in more “traditional” churches somehow love Jesus less.

Below are some of the benefits of tradition:

1. Tradition connects us to a “cloud of witnesses”.

The writer of Hebrews refers to a “cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 12:1. This cloud of witnesses is a reference to those who have gone before us. Specifically, the writer encourages us to consider these faithful saints who have endured the hardship of life and finished the race successfully. According to Hebrews 12:1, looking to these faithful men and women will enable us to:

  • Throw off everything that hinders us in our own race.
  • Kill sin which entangles us.
  • Encourage us to run our race with perseverance in the midst of trials and persecution.

2. Tradition prevents chronological snobbery.

The phrase “chronological snobbery” was first coined by C.S. Lewis. According to Lewis, this special type of snobbery is defined as, “the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited.” We cite technological and intellectual advancements and neglect to study ancient material since we do not find it “relevant.”

The opposite is often true.

If something has been around for hundreds (or even thousands) of years and people still talk about it, it holds immense relevance and truth for the 21st century. Rather than accepting the next self-help book because it is on the best seller list, acquaint yourself with the classics. By reading classic Christian literature and even the church fathers (writings from early church history), you will gain a deep appreciation for the person and work of Christ which extends across generations.

3. Tradition exposes cultural idols.

When we come to Scripture, we do not come with a blank slate. Some people erroneously claim that we should allow the Bible to interpret our theology rather than allowing our theology to interpret the Bible. That sounds great on paper but is impossible in practice.

All of us, whether we admit it or not, bring assumptions, experiences, and cultural assumptions to our understanding of God and Scripture. The same way a fish does not know what water is because it is surrounded by it, we do not see our cultural idols because they are deeply embedded in our being.

Reading the works of those who lived in different periods of time with a variety of backgrounds will help us see the “water” we swim in. God will use the writings alongside of Scripture to expose the disgusting idols we willingly sacrifice our time, finances, and abilities to.

I would encourage you to read a Christian author this month who lived outside of the 21st century. Below are some of my favorite authors whose works of literature are considered classics. Some are older than others; all of them will add great value to your life. 

  • Jonathan Edwards
  • C.S. Lewis
  • Thomas Aquinas
  • John Bunyan
  • Augustine
  • John Calvin
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Shepherd Your Wife

Shepherd Your Wife

Although this post is written for pastors, the principles can apply to all husbands.

The Church is facing an epidemic involving pastors who fail to shepherd their wives. As pastors, our natural tendency is to love our church and ignore our families. We would not actually say this but it is evident by our actions and work ethic.

Pastor, if your marriage falls apart you are disqualified from ministry.

Someone once asked a pastor of a growing church how he balanced the demands on his time between his wife and his congregation. The wise pastor answered, “You either have to cheat your wife or cheat your church.” If you decide to cheat your wife because you have a savior complex and want to feel “needed” at all times by your congregation, you are NOT qualified for ministry.

Your church can have a large number of different pastors; your wife only gets one husband.

Before you think I am being too harsh, I will be the first to admit that I am talking to myself as much as I am talking to you. I consistently fail in this area and am eternally grateful for God’s grace and the love of my wife in the midst of my imperfections.

Here are five practical ways to make your wife a priority in ministry:

1. Commit to your wife a certain amount of evenings at home.
One of the disadvantages of ministry is that your evenings can quickly fill up with meetings and appointments if you do not diligently guard your schedule. In order to visibly show my wife that she is more important to me than my ministry, I have committed to spending four nights every week at home and only break this when I truly have no other choice. If you spend more evenings at your church instead of at your home, you need to re-evaluate your priorities.

Although this post is focused on shepherding your wife, these evenings are priceless in the lives of your kids. If you want your kids to grow up in bitterness towards the church, spend all your time at the church. On the other hand, if you want your kids to have a love and commitment to the local church, be sure that your evenings are open for them!

2. Publicly state your commitment to your wife.
When Ashley and I launched the Garretson Campus of The Rescue Church, I knew I needed to guard my time. Unfortunately, this knowledge took awhile to become application in my life. In order to hold myself accountable (and be sure my church has realistic expectations of me), I tell members of my church that my wife is far more important to me than my ministry.

If you “succeed” as a pastor but fail as a husband, you are a failure. On the other hand, if you “fail” as a pastor but succeed as a husband, you are successful.

3. Have another man in your life that will hold you accountable.
I met with one of my mentors (who is also a pastor) this morning for breakfast and he shared profound wisdom with me in regard to accountability. He explained that if you are a pastor with no real accountability partner, it is only a matter of time until Satan destroys your ministry. As a pastor, you NEED another man in your life that will ask you specifically about your marriage and family on a regular basis. If you do not have an accountability partner, it is only a matter of time until you reach a point of emotionally abandoning your wife in pursuit of ministry.

4. Be willing to quit.
When I say that my church can have many different pastors but my wife only gets one husband, I truly mean it. If my ministry ever reaches a place where my wife truly feels neglected and abandoned because of it, I will quit. If you are married, God calls both you and your spouse into ministry. If you feel that you are called to be a pastor but your wife does not support your call then you need to wait for God’s timing. If you are already in ministry but your marriage is close to destruction, you NEED to quit and seek counseling.

DO NOT FAIL AS A HUSBAND AND “SUCCEED” AS A PASTOR! (I know I already said it but it is important enough to say again!)

5. Pray with your wife.
I know many pastors will skip over this one and simply assume they are. I will be the first to admit – I do not pray with my wife as regularly as I should. Matter of fact, it seems that I am more willing to pray with a new person after church than I am willing to pray with my beautiful bride and that is a shame. Spend time not only praying for your wife but praying WITH your wife. When you approach the throne of grace together as a couple, you allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen and sustain your marriage.

Satan hates your marriage and wants to destroy it. How are YOU going to make your wife a priority in ministry? Let me know by leaving a comment!