Don't Be Afraid of New Ideas...
Don’t Be Afraid of New Ideas
But don’t rush in to accept them either. You don’t have to look very far, especially on the Internet, to find “new” ideas and approaches to Christianity. People struggle with the faith they grew up with, which I think is a good thing, and wrestle with what scripture says vs what they’ve always been taught. In my experience you either come out with a stronger faith in Jesus, walk away from the faith, or try to invent or embrace new approaches to scripture and “what it really says.”
I’m not afraid of new ideas or ways of looking at things and I don’t think you should be either. We don’t have a monopoly on how to interpret scripture or what traditions to pass on and what ones to do away with. New approaches and ideas can often lead to good outcomes.
For instance, the church has, for the most part, now embraced several ways to proclaim the gospel. We no longer speak only to those within the four walls of a church (for the most part) but work hard at being involved in our local communities. A bit of an over statement for some contexts, but you see my point. A lot of churches no longer expect people to flock to their building and instead bring the gospel with them out into their every day lives.
As a church planter doing the early stages of contextualization for downtown St. John’s, I’m cognizant of the “new” ideas and approaches I may come across. I’m aware of the conversations I’ll likely have about the authority of scripture, social justice, spiritual gifts, and the list goes on. In the midst of these conversations, I expect to be challenged on our approach to ministry.
It’s great to be open to new ideas and to give them an audience, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t responsible for what happens if it’s a REALLY bad new idea. I can promote a different view on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. and not agree with it. However, if the idea is even slightly heretical or wrong, then I need to be aware of the impact it can have on people. In fact, I should be aware of the impact any idea would have on people.
I can absolutely listen to and even post a point of view I don’t agree with, but I need state that fact and give reasons for why I think it’s wrong. As a future pastor of a church, I will be held accountable for the people in my church,
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17 (Emphasis mine)
I will be responsible for what teaching my people receive. We know this is written about the Elders/Pastors of local churches, but it’s also a great principle to bring to our social media. Should I really be putting out any idea by any prominent figure without context or stating my own position? Wouldn’t that lead to people thinking I endorse those ideas?
Let’s be wise in how we deal and promote these “new” thoughts and ideas. We should not be afraid to state our own approach while still inviting others of different views to engage in conversation with us. Truth is never afraid of a question. Don’t be afraid to give an ear to “new” ideas, but we should also “test the spirits” as 1 John tells us and measure them against scripture.
Before I go, you’ve probably noticed that I always say “new” ideas and not, new ideas. This is because most, if not all, of these “new” approaches to scripture aren’t actually new. If you study church history, a lot of these “new” ideas are a rehashing of old ideas the church has already faced. Take an old idea and just put it in a new candy wrapper and you still have the old idea that’s been dealt with.
Don’t be afraid of new ideas and even trying them, but don’t compromise on the essentials of the faith. Don’t be afraid of new ideas but be responsible for the people you influence; especially if you’re a pastor. Be innocent as doves, but as wise as serpents.