Recently I was in a conversation with a mother of two teens and she shared that many people her age (including herself) suffer from "church trauma". She went on to say that she grew up in a church that she has since left because she has been deeply wounded by the church community's stance on particular issues and teachings. While she identifies as Christian she does not attend a place of worship consistently. Finally, when she shared that much of what she is looking for is a worship place that does not have any of the looks/sounds/feelings of the place that caused trauma in her young life. I can only imagine that must be very difficult to do.
I understand there is a desire in some to disassociate with any place of worship that looks like the place that abused them in the past. My heart and prayers go up to them and I am so very sorry that anyone has been abused at the hands of church leadership. I am sure that I too would hesitate to connect with a place that looked like a painful past. What I would like to offer up in this post is not at all speaking to this group of people. I would like to offer up something to the group of people who feel like there are traditions in the church that are passe and should be done away with.
Specifically, there are movements among churches to do away with things like passing the plate for an offering, eradicate silence, avoid talking about anything sad or depressing, eliminate theological language, avoid anything that is too "churchy", etc. The efforts come out of a desire to ensure than no one feels uncomfortable and that people leave feeling good so they will come back.
The eradication of tradition is something that has been going on since the dawn of time and perhaps today is no different than yesterdays. What I would like to submit though is the eradication of tradition is not very creative. It is easy to stop doing something or to do something completely different. What is much more difficult is finding ways to honor and evolve the tradition.
This is what I think Jesus was talking about when he said that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. He was not one that wiped tradition away, but preserved the residues of tradition for future generations. It has been said that tradition is the voice of the dead and if/when we eradicate tradition those voices die a second time. Tradition is that way to respect the ones who came before us and who worked hard in hopes that this day would arrive.
Cleaning church of tradition might sound great these days in order to "streamline" and be "efficient" and frankly it is easy to do this. The call of the Christian is, in part, a call to honor the entire body of Christ and use the spark of divine creativity to evolve the tradition so that it is fresh and meaningful for today. Preserving the reside of tradition is difficult work, but most important work is difficult.