Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What Kind Of Church Do You Like?

Have you ever wondered why there are so many different types of churches? I mean let's face it there are churches that meet just about everybody right where they are. You've got reserved churches, radical churches, quiet churches, loud churches, clapping churches, dancing churches, and hanging from the chandelier churches. There's denominational churches, non-denominational churches, and inter-denominational churches. There's the up and coming churches, the been here a while churches, and the been here forever churches. You have cowboy churches, inner-city churches, community churches, suburban churches, and back in the sticks churches. There's mega-churches, big churches, medium size churches, small churches, and mega-small churches. There's multi-ethnic churches and single-ethnic churches. There's liturgical churches, a little less liturgical churches, and not at all liturgical churches. I think I could go on for quite a while but, I'll stop here.

What's with all the different types of churches? There's a couple of different ways to look at this and I think we have to be very careful that we don't step over into an area of judgment, because someone worships a bit different than we do. Do you remember growing up and liking a different style of music than your parents? They couldn't understand why you liked your style you couldn't understand why they liked their style. Now, there are times when rebellion plays a part in something like this, but I know for me personally, and many others will relate to this, that was never the case when it came to the style of music I liked. My dad was a hard-core country music lover. I'm talking Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Kitty Wells, Grand Ole Opry stuff. Me on the other hand, leaned more toward electric guitar driven rock. Groups like Journey, U2, Petra, and Whiteheart. Believe it or not, we lived in the same house and managed to make it through without bashing each other's music too bad.

Here's the point, my music taste had nothing driving it but the fact that I enjoyed a specific style. There wasn't some dark force leading me away from my Dad's music heritage. It was simply a difference in musical taste. I like to think that it is the way God wired me. Isn't it amazing how God chooses to uniquely design each one of us? There's country boys, hard rockers, easy listening, Bach & Beethoven, jazz, etc. A little side note here, there is a lot of music out there that is absolute garbage, and not allowing your children to listen to it, is completely appropriate. Just make sure that its a content thing rather than a style thing. That's a complete different topic, so that's all I'll say for now.

What does all this have to do with churches? Trust me, I'm going somewhere with this. Those of us who are believers, have a specific way we like to do church. We find comfort in a specific style and there we feel at home. It is a tragedy though when we believe that our "style" of church is better than someone else's "style" of church. Now, I'm not heading into some "new-age" way of thinking where I believe every place that calls itself a church is actually scripturally sound and connected to the global body of Christ. I'm talking about churches here, that proclaim Jesus is Lord, teach that He's the only way to the Father, and that salvation comes through believing in Him. I'm talking about churches founded on the Word of God, and not some other written work of man. Believe it or not, that is still a broad, broad group of churches.

Could it be that the driving force behind all of these different styles of churches is a heavenly Father who is determined to reach as many of His children as he possibly can? Could it be that he has created a massive net and is casting it to catch every culture and sub-culture he possibly can? Think about it. Is it possible that God raises a young person up in an inner-city environment and later in life calls that person back to pastor an inner-city church in an effort to reach as many inner-city dwellers as possible? Is it possible that God creates some artsy, over the top emotionally driven person to pastor because he'll reach people that some reserved, "never let em see you sweat" pastor never could? Is it possible that God raises some person in a traditional liturgical church and then calls him to pastor the same type of church because, there are many who could be reached here who would never step foot into some "bouncing off the walls" charismatic church.

I remember when God began to deal with me about planting a new church. I had been raised in church my whole life and for the most part had been a part of churches that were of the same vein. As I began to seek the heart of God, and dig through scripture, God began to show me what Westlake Fellowship would look like. It would be different than any church I had been a part of. Not a great deal different, but different nonetheless. That's not a knock on any church I have been a part of. It's just the way God wired me. Remember my dad's country music? I can still appreciate his style and taste in music, while being true to who I am. In the same way, I can appreciate the different styles of worship that churches choose, while remaining true to who I am. God designed me to pastor a specific kind of church , to reach a group of people, in a specific community. Being confident in that, makes it very easy to rejoice when churches around me are effectively reaching people with the gospel.

I believe that God is a master fisherman and He'll stop at nothing to reach us. I believe that God uses all kinds of styles to reach all kinds of people. Let's be careful not to criticize some church down the road because their "style" of worship differs from ours. Let's learn how to appreciate the things that make us unique rather than boasting about how our way is right. And would it be too much to ask that we begin praying for those other churches, that God use them to reach those we can't?. I really believe that when we start thinking like this and start praying like this, we are one step closer to fulfilling Jesus' prayer for us to become one.

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