Every church has at least one. They are called sacred cows. A sacred cow is something so valued, that no one would dare change or criticize it. It just means that much to us! These sacred cows are not based on Biblical conviction but personal preferences. We get emotionally attached to these sacred cows, so much so, that when someone tries to “kill” one of these cows, we become very upset. Sometimes we feel threatened or angry or unwanted.
Recently Lifeway published a list of commonly reported “sacred cows.” Here are a few that I could identify with. What does your church have for sacred cows?
- Politics. It’s that time of year! (Hope you vote!) While politics is important there are church members who equate a certain political bent and party with biblical truth. They are insistent that their perspective be preached from the pulpit.
- The American Flag. A number of our churches have faced flack over the flag. There are those who feel that the flag is part of their faith. If a church doesn’t display it, they are backsliding! Really? (Remember, I’m Canadian).
- The organ. Believe it or not, that was an issue for our church years ago. It represented a shift in the style of music. I’m surprised the organ is still being used, but it is, and people have a strong attachment to it!
- Order of worship. Thou shalt not move the sermon to another part of the service. It amazes me that people are not more open to doing things a bit differently sometimes. Order is sacred and they don’t like surprises.
- The building. I heard Rick Warren say that he would never build a building he couldn’t tear down. Some congregations have shifted their finances and focus to take care of “wood and stubble” rather than the Great Commission.
- Pews. Some people believe pews are more worshipful than single chairs. Single chairs are too informal. Pews just feel more spiritual. Opinion alert: I’m not a fan of pews. They feel traditional and cold.
- Clothes. It’s important that we wear something. However, people have associated certain “proper” attire to greater respect for God. If we really came to worship, we would wear formal dresses, suits, and ties.
- Committees. Some believe that committees are God’s way for all decision making. The danger is that a church can get bogged down by meetings. Committees can also be used to control others, including the pastor. Every potential change and new idea gets buried by a committee.
BEFORE YOU GO…
Clearly this list isn’t exhaustive. It’s important though that we consider the reason we feel something is so crucial. Do we value it because of the heritage it represents or simply because that’s how we’ve always done it? Is it significant because of our own life experience but less meaningful to others who also worship? If scripture doesn’t mandate it or forbid it, it’s fair game for change. Culture and tradition have value but not if they lessen our effectiveness to reach others with the good news!
Can you add to this list? What are the other sacred cows you deal with? I’d love to hear from you!
ZOOM ROOM INVITATION: Next Thursday we’ll be addressing this topic during my Superintendent’s Zoom. Pastors and church leaders are welcome to join me at this link: https://zoom.us/j/581515616. Mark your calendars for November 8th at 9:00 AM.