The Return To Ritual: Should Free Grace Churches Adopt Ash Wednesday, Lent, And Other Emergent Church Practices? -- By: Philippe R. Sterling

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 22:43 (Autumn 2009)
Article: The Return To Ritual: Should Free Grace Churches Adopt Ash Wednesday, Lent, And Other Emergent Church Practices?
Author: Philippe R. Sterling


The Return To Ritual:
Should Free Grace Churches Adopt Ash Wednesday, Lent, And Other Emergent Church Practices?

Philippe R. Sterling

Pastor,

Vista Ridge Bible Fellowship

Coppell, Texas

I. Introduction: What Is Happening Today?

U.S. News and World Report1 and Christianity Today (CT)2 not long ago ran cover stories about Evangelicals adopting historic church rituals. Christianity Today introduced its feature article with the cover-page declaration, “Lost Secrets of the Ancient Church: How Evangelicals started looking back to move forward.” CT senior managing editor Mark Galli wrote, “You might say a number of CT editors have a vested interest in this issue’s cover story. David Neff, Ted Olsen, Tim Morgan, and I have been doing the ancient-future thing for many years, at Episcopal and/or Anglican parishes.” The U.S. News article title was “A Return to Tradition: A New Interest in Old Ways Takes Root in Catholicism and Many Other Faiths.”

The same article featured the congregation of Trinity Fellowship Church in Richardson, Texas and introduces the church in this way:

An independent, nondenominational church of some 600 members, Trinity Fellowship is not the only evangelical congregation that is offering a weekly Eucharist, saying the Nicene or Apostles’ creeds, reading the early Church Fathers, or doing other things that seem downright Roman Catholic or at least high Episcopalian. Daniel Wallace, a Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, which trains pastors for interdenominational or nondenominational churches, says there is a growing appetite for something more than “worship that is a glorified Bible class in some ways.”

Carl Anderson, the senior pastor of Trinity Fellowship Church, is quoted in the article:

“Seven or eight years ago, there was a sense of disconnectedness and loneliness in our church life,” he says. The entrepreneurial model adopted by so many evangelical churches, with its emphasis on seeker-friendly nontraditional services and programs, had been successful in helping Trinity build its congregation, Anderson explains. But it was less successful in holding on to church members and deepening their faith or their ties with fellow congregants. Searching for more rootedness, Anderson sought to reconnect with the historical church…Not surprisingly, that move was threatening to church members who strongly identify with the Reformation and the Protestant rejectio...

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