Pre-traditional Church

Tradition (even church tradition) has not always existed.  The Christian church began as a mighty movement of the Holy Spirit with no tradition.  It was led by the Spirit rather than contained by tradition.

The New Testament was written during the pre-tradition era when church was a spiritual movement.   However as time went on church gradually morphed into an institution which culminated with Roman Emperor Constantine giving the church political influence and power, and the Bishop of Rome being proclaimed as the head of the church as the Pope.  (The living, resurrected Jesus Christ is the actual Head of the church.)

The Orthodox, Protestant, and independent churchs also contain (and are contained by) much tradition.  Although the Protestant Reformers proclaimed that tradition should be set aside for Scripture, they kept much old tradition and created lots of new tradition.

1 to all?  or All as 1?

Traditional church, no matter the denomination, has 1 professional and/or ordained pastor, priest, preacher, clergyman, or minister (almost always a man) speak to (and do religious things for) all the rest of the people, while they are required to passively and quietly sit and listen.  It very rarely moves beyond this traditional format (usually only during times of great spiritual awakening, but then quickly reverts to the 1 to all format).

Pre-traditional church, however, allows all the people to actively minister to one another as led by the living Holy Spirit.  All speak as one voice because they don’t just share from their own mind, ego, or opinion.  Rather they speak as prompted by God. 

Pre-traditional church is described in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 14:26 like this:  “When you come together, everyone has a psalm, a hymn, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation . . .”  Pre-traditional church is very rare.  However, around the world it is making a comeback.  The house church movement in China has been pre-traditional, as has the very small organic church movement in the West. 

If you would like to experience first-hand a pre-traditional church, visit The Salvation Army Berry Street in Nashville — where ordinary people, as led by the Spirit, show and tell what God has done — Sunday mornings at 10:45, 225 Berry St., 37207. 

About Steve Simms

I like to look and think outside the box. In college I encountered Jesus Christ and I have been passionate about trying to get to know Him better ever since. My wife and I co-lead a non-traditional expression of the body of Christ in Nashville based on open participation and Spirit-led sharing. We long to see the power and passion of the first Christ-followers come to life in our time. I have written a book about our experiences called, "Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible--Ekklesia" that is available in Kindle & paperback @
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7 Responses to Pre-traditional Church

  1. Outlaw Monk says:

    There is currently a “house church” movement that has been going on in American and the rest of the world that is similar to what you describe from 1 Cor. I’m not sure about a “pre-traditional” church ever really existed. For example, the Didache, which is an early document that traces the traditions of the Church is thought to have been written around the same time as the Pauline Letters. Traditions including ways of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the Lord’s Prayer were vague but they were present even back then.

    In 1 Cor. Paul talks a lot about the use of the Holy Spirit in the Church but in other letters he takes a more brick-and-mortar approach; 1 Tim. for example. The thing to remember about the Epistles is, they were letters written to specific churches to address specific problems. What may have been appropriate for the Church in Corinth may not have been appropriate for the Church in Ephesus and vice versa. I think that’s still true today, the Gospel has be be preached in the way best suited to the people.

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