Monday, June 30, 2008

Doing Church.

Sometimes I wish that God in His Word, the book that we call "The Bible", had prescribed a specific way to "do" Church ...a sort of "how-to" manual that would tell us to do this and not do that.

Have these programs, don't have these. Have worship gatherings this way, but not that way. Lead like this, not like that. Teach this way (systematically, topically, holistically, etc.), not that way. The building for worship gatherings should look like this, not like that. The Church should be staff led rather than deacon led (or perhaps congregational?). Music should be X, not X (that would really help!).

Sometimes I think that things would be much easier if we had a model, direct from God, on how to "do" Church. But then I think about how boring Christianity would be if we all had to do it a certain way. What if God had said that Church worship getherings had to be in Latin with all sorts of chanting and kneeling? That would bore me to death! Or what if He said those worship gatherings had to be extraordinarily jubilant with people running down the aisles, tambourines in hand, hooping and hollering? That would freak me out! What if God said that Church worship gatherings should not have any musical instruments at all? I wouldn't like that either (not that the Church is or should be about me at all).

There are so many different ways to "do" Church, and I for one am pretty glad about that. One of the things I LOVE about being a Baptist is that our denomination is founded upon the the tenet of freedom to practice worship as we want. NOBODY can force us to do anything; there is no system of mandatory leadership who can force us to do something, and the in leadership we do have is 100% cooperative. The president of the Southern Baptist Convention can recommend certain things and the Convention can disassociate with a church if they do things we don't believe in (have a female pastor, homosexual pastor, let homosexuals join as church members, publicly practice or encourage controversial spiritual gifts, etc) - but the beauty is that it's all voluntary!

Yet some like hierarchy; some like having government with bishops and mandates from a central power source. Methodists, Episcopalians, Roman catholics, etc. are some of these and you know what? I think that's great.

As God said through Paul in Philippians 1:18: "
The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached."

So what's the "right" way to do Church? Thank God, there is none. We can do Church however we perceive God's Spirit to be leading us, and that will look totally different in different parts of the world, country, state, and even in different parts of the same city!

All that matters to me is that Christ is preached!