People have an amazing ability to miss the point and make a point out of a minor point. This seems to be especially prevalent in church world. Here are some approaches people use, maybe people in your church. Look for ways to gently and sensitively correct these approaches as you preach, while also modelling appropriate application of the text.
A. The Selective Normative Detail Approach – If it is in there, automatically copy it. I include the term “selective” since nobody can apply this consistently. One person may choose to have a conviction about how to pray before eating based on the feeding of the five thousand, but they may not see the need to apply the same approach to the size of seated groups when a large gathering is to be fed. It is amazing what details in a narrative can become normative for some.
B. The Selective Absence as Normative Approach – If it is not in there, don’t allow it. Again, this has to be selective because consistency would not be possible. So since guitars are not mentioned, they may be deemed inappropriate, but many churches holding convictions about guitars are fine with carpet in the room. Preferences are preferences. They need not be considered biblical and moral convictions.
C. The Equal Weight Normativity Approach – This is where every detail is considered equal. If something is mentioned as a narrative detail, then it is considered as normative as a pattern or an instruction. After all, it is in the Bible!
D. The Ridiculous Application of Detail Approach – I’ve covered this already really, but I just want to underline it with another category. One church springs to mind. They felt they had to meet at 11am rather than 10:30am, because in the Bible it says, “when the hour had come, they…”
Feel free to add to the list . . .
It is amazing what people will do with the Bible, and what they miss by focusing on this kind of thing. But if we, as preachers, don’t model and instruct otherwise, nothing will change.