The Sacred Cow

So I’ve noticed something in churches lately, well actually not lately, but most of my life, and especially now in my church (not that I’m trying to blast mine). The Sacred Cow syndrome, is what I would call it. This is an ailment that effects all churches to certain extents and especially the older churches, churches that have been around long enough to have created traditions and norms for themselves. The Sacred Cow syndrome is basically this; there is something, or multiple things in a church that are considered untouchables, or unchangeable. In most cases it has nothing to do with the Bible, or anything theological or scriptural. It is just something that has always been. It could be a curtain, chairs, carpet, an alter that says ‘In Remembrance of Me’ for communion, a cross, stained glass window, anything. The problem with these things is this: it gets in the way of the changes that need to happen in churches in order to stay relevant in our world today. I’m not saying we should throw out all church tradition become a rock concert with watered down biblical teachings. That would be a terrible thing to do. I’m saying churches need to let go of traditions that are killing them. The Sacred Cow, musical style, preaching style, chair set up, and yes maybe even an old ratty carpet. Taking care of the church building and updating it is not a sin, it’s good stewardship of what God has blessed the church with. To maintain a tradition just because, even though it is keeping new people from feeling comfortable in a church, a place that is for some believers (including myself) an uncomfortable place is very sinful. We need to be willing to change to reach people. We need to stop being inwardly focused on ourselves, who we were and focus outward on who we could become if those who do not yet know God came into our family.

Is your churches ‘Sacred Cow’ keeping your church from growing?


3 thoughts on “The Sacred Cow

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Sacred Cow is where many a church has died and many more a church leader has been sacrificed. I will play devils advocate a little and say that often some of us come in wanting change real fast, or to make the church meet what we think is the prime, and that often causes the tension. But there are others who get stuck in the dictatorship of the routine and they are looking for some magnificent, marvelous, miraculous event to start up or reenergize the church, it is only then that they are moved to change. There are two illustrations I think about to help deal with sacred cow. Slow, gradual, subversive change. Best example Ive heard of this is when a pastor came in and was trying to work to get the piano to not be the center of the stage at a church. The pastor before moved it, nearly caused a split and left. This pastor moved it one inch every Sunday until people were so used to it being off to the side that they barely noticed.
    A second example is explanation. We have to constantly apply and explain the core principles and values of the church and ministry in a way that will get them believing things must change. Its both an unlearing and relearning and again must be subversive, almost parabolic. (there’s a theological term for you).
    Whats funny about it all, is that even us young guys have our sacred cows that if somebody really messed with it, we would squirm and fidget and resist a little. So, once again, I take the middle ground – I say build altars to Christ around the sacred cows, and then as people see how amazing it is to serve and worship the Lord God alone, they push the sacred cows to the side.

    Thanks for the blog on Fall Institute, can I pass that onto some others…

    Matt Bach

  2. John the Red Wonder says:

    Agree. There has to be a method we can convince senior pastors of that would help us be able to identify the cows

  3. Tom Neyhart says:

    preach it brother!! Why is it that people think it is okay for the church to have ratty old things… many of which were donated because they were no longer wanted. If it is not good enough for an individual to have it in their own home why on earth do they think in needs to be used in a public setting like the church? You have hit on my hot buttons, I have served in the nastiest of buildings in past ministries where the things that were tolerated and thought to be the norm would never have been allowed to exist in the homes of many of the church members.

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