From my friend Mike Edmisten:
The Detroit Lions have hosted a football game on Thanksgiving Day every year since 1934. (The Dallas Cowboys also have a long Thanksgiving streak going, but for the sake of this post, we'll focus on the Lions.) In 1999, there was a resolution to rotate the games every year to involve other NFL teams, but the Lions successfully squelched it. For the football fan, Thanksgiving runs through Detroit every year.
It started when the Lions left their original home in Portsmouth, Ohio for Detroit. Their new owner wanted to boost attendance, so he used his powerful media connections to book a game on Thanksgiving Day that was broadcast on NBC. That started a tradition that exists to this day.
If you're not a football fan, you might not know this…the Lions stink. And this is not a new phenomenon. They Lions have stunk for many years.
And yet, they will be playing on our TVs this Thanksgiving Day. It makes no sense. Who wants to watch the Lions play?
The more I consider this, the crazier it seems. It's Thanksgiving Day. Everyone has the day off. The NFL has the potential for a huge TV audience…and they give us the Lions.
Why? The answer is simple…tradition.
Contrary to what some people believe about me, I am not anti-tradition. Some traditions are fine. But some are not.
I'm not anti-tradition. I am anti-ineffective tradition. When a tradition ceases to be effective, we have lost the reason that it became a tradition in the first place. It's time to move on.
The Lions Thanksgiving Day tradition worked well in the 1930s. It doesn't work anymore. Move on.
Similarly, the church is often guilty of maintaining outdated, antiquated, ineffective programs because of tradition. Sure, these things worked at one time. Otherwise they wouldn't have become a tradition. But if they are not effective anymore, the right thing to do is to do something else.
Why would we think that God is pleased when we keep doing something based on tradition instead of effectiveness? God wants His church to do whatever it takes to win people to Christ…not prop up ineffective traditions.
Maybe this old adage says it best…when the horse is dead, dismount.
Good advice for the NFL.
Better advice for God's church.