One thing I have learned after inheriting a church building that is over thirty-five years old: don’t change something until you get an idea of why it was there. Sometimes, when I investigate why something was put up, I find it to be a matter of tradition, preference, or taking a shortcut (and okay to remove, improve, or replace). Other times, I discover that there was a reason something was put together the way it was; and I have no business trying to change it without compromising the entire structure of our building.
In life and ministry it is no different.
Be careful about trying to tear down the spiritual legacy your forefathers have passed down to you. Certainly, there are some man-made traditions that can and should be removed, replaced, or improved. But, there is so much that our forefathers have passed on to us that cannot be changed or removed without compromising the entire structure on which we stand (God’s Word).
Take, for example, the matter of ecclesiastical separation. Our fundamental forefathers blazed a trail for us of separation from denominations and movements that began to teach doctrine contrary to Scripture. These were men who faced the rise of the issues of their day and, by God’s grace, took a biblical stand. Many of them sacrificed their reputations and their present ministries to stay true to sound doctrine. Out of their sacrifice was born the independent Baptist movement.
It has been said “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Even so, if we forgot our history it will be to our own detriment. If we begin to follow leaders who have unbiblical doctrine and philosophies (not concerning mere nominal preference issues, but critically fundamental doctrinal issues such as calvinism, Bible versions, ecumenism, etc.), we will by such a choice be moving in a direction that is defiant of God’s truth and deviant from the trail our forefathers blazed for us. More devastatingly, we will set our posterity on a course where they will most certainly be led astray from sound doctrine.
This is why I say to you: don’t try to change or remove something until you get an idea of why it was there.
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.—1 Corinthians 3:10–11
Keep in mind, many of the new ideas circulating today have not been proven. Be careful about jumping on the bandwagon and abandoning the biblical philosophy and principles God has blessed throughout church history.
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.—2 Timothy 3:14–15
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.—1 Thessalonians 5:21