"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."
I love that. It is a crystal clear picture of what the church should ultimately try to be and do.
In matters of style, the church has to 'swim with the current'. We must be able to communicate and relate to people (both saved and unsaved) in a language they understand. Yes, we must be relevant to the culture and communities in which they live. That is why we have Cowboy Churches; and Asian, Hispanic, and Chinese churches; and Hip Hop churches; and churches for men; and contemporary churches; and traditional churches. It is a matter of style. It is a logical conclusion that to reach certain segments of society, the church needs to 'speak their language', or relate to their style. As Jefferson said, in matters of style, you have to (HAVE TO) swim with the current.
In matters of principle, the church must stand like a rock. In areas of doctrine, right and wrong, and sin... the church must stand firm. It cannot waiver. It must stand like a rock.
The confusion comes for some when they try to make the 'style' and the 'principle' the same thing. They are not.
That is why we have many different types of churches that hold to the standard of God's word. A successful church is one that can navigate the sometimes ferocious waters of style, and stay anchored to the rock of principle. In fact, if a church does not navigate the style current; it risks becoming ineffective reaching the people she is trying to reach.
One of the biggest issue churches face when attracting and hiring new staff are these two issues: style and principle.
If you hire someone based on style alone, you're bound for turmoil.
And sometimes someone that is a good fit from a 'principle' standpoint may totally not be able to adapt to the style you need to reach your community.
It's important to look at candidates through both lenses. And if you have any internal problems on your staff right now, start by drilling down to see if it might be a style or principle issue.
How's your church doing with style and principle? Have you ever gotten the two confused? If so, Thomas Jefferson's quote from nearly 200 years ago may help you communicate the difference between the two in a way that people will easily understand.
Todd has invested over 30 years in serving churches, having served as a worship pastor for over 15 years, a church elder for more than a decade, and in various ministry leadership roles in both the business and non-profit sectors. As the original founder and developer of ChurchStaffing.com, Todd fundamentally changed the way thousands of churches search for pastors and staff on the internet. Most recently, Todd’s work with Leadership Network has provided him exposure to the innovative trends in today’s church and inside knowledge of how healthy churches operate and uses it to help churches find a healthy, long-term fit for their next team member. Todd is a graduate of Cedarville University, and lives in Bryan, OH with his wife, Dawn.