Get Into Ordinary

What is “Ordinary?”

The constitution of the church I serve uses this word a lot:

“The installed pastor shall ordinarily moderate all meetings of the congregation.”

“The presbytery placing the call to the candidate for ministry shall ordinarily examine, ordain, and install the candidate.”

“The preaching of the Word shall ordinarily be done by a Teaching Elder.”

“When a child is being presented for Baptism, ordinarily the parent(s) or one(s) rightly exercising parental responsibility shall be an active member of the congregation.”

“Ordinarily” occurs over 50 times in the Presbyterian Book of Order. I like it. It’s a word that not only indicates the limits of what might be done, but, more importantly, asserts a wide range of possibility within what we “ordinarily” do.

I realize not everybody sees it that way. It’s often used as a stop sign on anything we might do at church that feels non-standard. It’s just as often used as a scapegoat, like we would be flourishing if only these pesky standards of “ordinary” weren’t in our way.

Maybe “Ordinarily” can function less as a gatekeeper type of term and more of an invitation: here’s what is ordinarily done. Play around with that and see what you can come up with.

“What can you do with “ordinarily?”


2 thoughts on “Get Into Ordinary

  1. Donna Supinger says:

    I like it! I wish Baptist churches would do more of that so everything was more of a guide than an absolute law! I could live with that! As is I go to church but don’t join the church because you have to swear to abide by the constitution of the church. The constitution has rules that can’t or won’t follow like absolutely no alcohol.

  2. Landon Whitsitt says:

    I enjoy that “ordinarily” simultaneously cautions against and acknowledges exceptions. “Given everything going the way we intend, this is what we ordinarily do. But if circumstances change, we’ll…”

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