I remember, as a mainline traditional Methobapterian, hearing those from the upstart Charismatic Movement talk about new wine in new wine skins (Mark 2:22). The implication, of course, was that the traditional church was old wine; the Charismatics had the new wine.
The early Charismatic Movement, as an immature child, made a lot of mistakes, driving a wedge between itself and much of the mainliners, myself included. Fortunately for me, however, I was able two overcome the biases of my traditions, look past the immaturity, and I became one of those “tongue-talkers”.
Today you’ll find many mainline congregations have embraced a”Spirit-filled” life, and all the gifts of the Spirit flow freely. Other denominations have sprung up that are distinctively Charismatic. And many Pentecostal denominations have shed their bondages of legalism and now flow freely with the Holy Spirit, recognizing the tenets of the Charismatic Movement as valid.
This is all “front porch” to my point in this blog. Going back to my opening statement, I must first say that, while I agree with the point the Charismatic Movement was trying to make, they did a poor job of conveying the message. Meanwhile, it was not the mainline denominations’ doctrines that were the problem. It was their TRADITIONS that kept them so tied to the past that they refused to listen to any new ideas.
I see those same thing happening, now, in Charismatic churches as well. Many of them are old enough, now, that they have become “traditional Charismatics” without even realizing it. Many of them are “doing church” the same way they did in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. and, while they continue in their established traditions they are stagnating. They may be growing, but by and large it is transfer growth rather than evangelism growth.
Many mainline churches are waking up and shaking off their traditional mindset and embracing new ideas for reaching the lost. And they are reaching a new generation that is hungry for spiritual renewal.
There are four phrases that keep ringing through my head. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you ve always gotten.” “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different response.” “The greatest opposition of the fresh move of God usually comes from the proponents of the previous move of God.” Finally, my favorite, “Sacred cows make the best hamburgers!”
We can ot allow our traditions from holding us back from reaching another generation because our methods worked 10, 20 or 30 years ago….just because WE like thIngs the way they are is no reason to refuse to embrace new ideas. If we aren’t willing to embrace change, we become old wineskins and will not be privileged to be part of the next move of God.