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Doing the same thing. Together.

Posted by Gary Pauley on

I was thinking recently about how differently the church can look…and still be the church. Even in my experience I have seen the church in a number of varieties:

  • I have been in small, country sized churches. Sometimes one room. My grandfather pastored many churches like this and I remember attending and hearing him preach.
  • My teen years were in a church of a couple thousand. Very different from the country church. The church was so committed to youth that it almost completely paid for 20 teens to go on a missions trip to Peru. I was one of them.
  • In Peru I remember attending church in what seemed to be an abandoned building that had only 3 complete walls and no roof.
  • I pastored a church that met in the basement of a small bank building, in a YMCA, in our own home, and in a house that was converted into a church.
  • A friend of mine who ministers in Africa tells me of the church that has “classrooms” defined by the amount of shade a tree in the village can supply: a two person room, four person room, etc.
  •  I spoke in a church in China that met in a restaurant on Sundays before the business opened. It was not a “government church.”
  • I spoke in a church in France that meets in an old Catholic “mini-cathedrale" (pictured). Talk about beautiful…and intimidating.
  • I pastored a church that grew quickly and had to develop programs that would handle people of all ages.

St. Pierre le JeuneWhat I was thinking recently is how these churches are all doing the same thing. They look very, very different from one another, but they are all doing the same work. The education of the pastors was different in each case. The buildings varied wildly. The music could not be compared. The format was not the same. Of course the languages were different in some cases. The length of the services were all different. Sometimes prayer even looked different. Some had technology, most did not. Some had no formalities whatsoever (religious furniture or fancy offering plates), some had expensive decorations and furniture.

But in every case there was a method for collective praise and worship. There was often some opportunity for testimony and sharing. In all there was centrality of the Scripture in a teaching or exhorting context. In all of them there were leaders whose gifts and calling was known to all who ministered spiritually. In all of them there was some expression of mutual support and caring of members of the congregation for one another.

Basically, they all were doing the same thing.

Believers all have personal opinions about the “best” way to do things in the church on Sunday mornings. But most of those preferences are not about things that define us a Christians. Even this Sunday all over the globe believers will gather in Cathedrals and mud huts and under trees…to do the same thing.

 It’s easy to get side-tracked, isn’t it?