Are you into today’s contemporary worship music or the good ol’ fashioned Hymns?
Do you like the carpet to be red, blue, green or black?
Do you like notes with Fill-in-the-blanks, or not?
It’s okay, you don’t have to answer those questions. They are rhetorical. The reason why they are is to talk about what each of these questions has in common. They are all preferences.
Now some of you may be thinking: “Wait for a second, Dave. I hold to these convictions. I thought you were against debating on secondary issues like Calvinism, Arminianism, Dispensationalism, Eschatology, Baptism, Predestination, Free Will, Etc. How can you tell me I need to set these issues to the side?” Well, you’re right. I don’t believe in debating over secondary issues. The difference, of course, is this: carpet colors, song styles, and message notes aren’t secondary issues. They certainly aren’t primary either. They are actually known as preferences.
We all have preferences. For Example, I have friends who are fans of the Oakland A’s, but I prefer the San Francisco Giants (I hope they don’t mind me sharing that here). Some friends of mine are all for Mac Computers. I don’t. Windows all the way, Baby! Some like Androids, I prefer the iPhone and iPad. The list goes on and on.
Out of all the stupidest things we debate about, it’s preferences. But unlike convictions where we can still hold to what we believe in, preferences are the least important. You may have to adjust and give up certain preferences. Now, will that be damaging to your walk with the Lord? No, not really. Preferences don’t really have anything to do with Theology. You can set aside your preferences to put others before yourself. You couldn’t do that with convictions, that would be straight out compromising and that’s bad.
Let me give another example. Before I became a part of Celebrate Recovery, I was a strong proponent of fill-in-the-blanks in the sermon notes at church. But then I had to challenge myself. It actually started at my home church, VCC. They don’t use fill-in-the-blanks, they just provide a spot for you to take notes. The slides that they provide have been helpful too. Most of the time, they go verse by verse in their studies. They will even give incredible key points that come in their own slide. Here are some examples: “The Gospel is the Person and Work of Jesus”, “Prayer is the Language of Dependence” “Hope is not I wish so…will it be so? Hope is I know so. So, I wait.” These key points have been embedded in my noggin and have helped me a lot. Since then, I have learned that I need to challenge myself when it comes to following along with the pastor in his notes.
Here’s a more recent example. There’s a church called 3Crosses which is where I usually go to on Thursday Evenings for their young adults’ ministry: Soma. Early this year, they installed their new Senior Pastor to the pulpit. My pastor and I are very good friends of his and we have great respect for him. One of the things that makes him different from his predecessor is that he doesn’t usually have fill-in-the-blanks in his sermon notes. Some people on the world of social media (and I don’t recommend that you ever do this) decided to complain that they were not thrilled about the transition all because of the no fill-in-the-blank sermons. Well, with respect to them and in defense of the pastor, I would digress mainly because he isn’t obligated to share messages that tickle the ears of the people who come to the church building, nor should he be required to do put fill-ins in his messages. The Gospel is supposed to encourage us but also challenge us too. If we’re not being challenged, we’re not growing. The pastor would be causing an incredible disservice to the church if he doesn’t allow God to use him to challenge us.
As I mentioned earlier, it took me a while to get used to this as well when I changed churches. When it comes to issues like this, we need to be careful about our expectations and set our preferences to the side so that we can allow God through the power of his Holy Spirit to continue to do the work of Sanctification in our lives.
Finally, The Anonymous Writer to the Hebrews makes this clear in Hebrews 13:17 (ESV):
17 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.
Let’s cut our pastors some slack when it comes to our preferences. They are human just like us. We need to encourage them too. They have a lot to do when it comes to shepherding our flock.
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Peace Out & God Bless! CINCOS!