A Different Way

By Hod Allen

When I consider the difficulties that the ministry has had of late finding venues to hold their gospel meetings, special meetings etc., I wonder why they don’t try a different way of spreading the gospel. There are many ways that outreach can be done, so why is it so important to hold them in the traditional form of a gospel meeting in a rented venue?

This form of proselytizing is not specifically directed by the scriptures, but was developed within the first years of the inception of this denomination. We read of Jesus speaking to many people in diverse ways: he taught in the temple, on a mountain, from a boat to a crowd on the shore, to a crowd in someone’s home, to a few people at a wedding, to a single person in a crowd, at someone’s dinner table etc., etc., etc. Surely, these ministers realize that there are other options at their disposal.

We also see convention grounds being closed because of the unwillingness for change of the ministers in charge. Again, the tradition of convention is not scriptural, but was developed within the first years of this denomination.

It has become obvious to me that the underlying problem is the aversion of many within this organization to change of any kind. This is troubling evidence that their hope and confidence could be in tradition and form and not in the saving power of Jesus.

The history of this denomination has proven that its traditions and culture provide an unusually convenient situation and haven for sexual predators. Because of this, fundamental and meaningful change must take place to ensure the safety of the young and vulnerable in the congregation. These changes, although devastating to some of the traditions, will serve to strengthen the crucial relationship between God and believer.

Jesus came to shake things up and to show people a different way. He came to make people feel uncomfortable with the status quo. He came to jar people out of their complacency and to upset their spiritual routines. That’s what is happening now for this organization. People are being given a chance to lift their eyes from what they have come to expect from their traditions unto God who will forever exceed their expectations.

I often think of my great grandparents who left the traditions of their respective churches to join this denomination. They were courageous to step away from what they were used to and dissatisfied with and to try something new. It tried their faith and realigned their vision to God. Now, 110 years later, people are being called to do the same thing, only now, the traditions that have taken the place of salvation to some, are within this very denomination; so we see that it isn’t about the organization being right or wrong, but that we as individuals must be shaken periodically, and realigned with our God.

One of the things that I’ve heard all my life is that saying, “It’s right to be different when different is right”, and that has given many within this denomination courage to be different in so many ways: to stand out in the way they dress and the physical things that they deny themselves. However, after generations of a family being “different” in these ways, or when most of your family and friends are being “different” in these ways, these sacrifices are no longer an expression of your faith, but more of a way of life that is easier to conform to than to rebel against. Instead, God gives revelations and convictions that require us to step outside our OWN comfort zone, and to be different from what we have always done or believed, not to be different from others, but to be different from ourselves. He challenges us as individuals and inspires us to change, always to change so that we can become more the creatures of love than of habit.

Our God is always the same, but our understanding and perception of Him will always be changing as we grow and mature. If we cling to an understanding of who He was and what He required of us when we were 20, and now we are 50, we are missing out on so much joy and so many opportunities to serve our creator. The bottom line: embrace change, rejoice when we are shaken and our vision gets lifted up from our daily routine.

June 9, 2024