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We Don’t Like How You Do Church

10 Feb Posted by in Christian Comedian | Comments

motivational speaker Kelly SwansonHigh School All Over Again

In my high school there were distinct groups of students. They rarely overlapped unless you had a Romeo and Juliet thing going on, and even then, those relationships didn't last long. You had the cheerleaders. the jocks, the geeks, the theater people, the pot heads, and some other groups defined by the member's greatest asset or lack thereof. And then you had the non-conformists – those who fought "the system" and "the man" and "the labels."  We called them the freaks (not my term, I was not on the labelling committee) and they wore all black, white makeup, eyeliner, black nail polish, black boots, and chains. You could spot one from a mile away. And I found it ironic that a group claiming to fight labels, had one of the most distinguished labels of all.

Back To The Present

Now fast forward to present day when I'm in a business setting having a conversation with a new friend about church. I know, this is dangerous ground to walk on in a business setting, but sometimes the things we believe in come up in conversation. And I've never been a fan of being ashamed of my faith and how I practice it. And I was particularly intrigued by my new friend's church. I love hearing how people worship. I find it fascinating to see how people all over the world express their praise for their King. So he's telling me about his church and its radical approach to church worship. And I told him how much I loved my church.

"What denomination?" he asked.

"Non-denominational," I answered, wondering why it always comes down to denomination with people. Shouldn't it be about The Gospel instead of what instruments you use?

I could see the change in his expression, as if suddenly realizing we weren't in the same club. "Oh," he said with a curl in his lip. "That's just Baptist with better music." And the way he said it didn't imply that he was giving me a compliment. He was implying that his way of "doing church" was superior to my way, and even more superior than Baptists.

So Whose Church Is Better?

In one sentence, he had insulted my current church and my old church. Wow. A double whammy offense. I found myself counting to ten and praying for enough wisdom and discernment to remain silent if I did not have a grace-filled reply. I had no reply that would have brought God glory, so I remained silent. Don't give me too much credit, usually this doesn't work, but this time it did. I walked away from the conversation and let go of my anger.

But it still leaves me with the unsettling realization that too many people in this world are judging how others "do church."  Maybe even me included.

Here was my new friend priding himself on his "new radical way" of doing church, when in reality he had done just what the freaks in high school had done – he had simply created a new look. While fighting the world's way of doing church, they had created their own new way of doing church with its own set of rules and definitions. They had stepped out of the box only to create another box.

See the irony?

And even more ironic, we were really in the same club. At our core we believed in the same Truth, we just had different ways of expressing it.

There's More Than One Way To Do Church

I know. It sounds so simple. And you're probably saying "duh". But if it's so simple, why are so many people looking down on how others do church?

While Truth is not relative, our relationship with the King is relative. Relative to the language we speak and the culture in which we live. Relative to the way we express ourselves. The instruments we use are just the instruments we use. The clothes we wear are just the clothes we wear. The building we gather in is just the building we gather in.

And despite the fact that we have all chosen different ways to relate to our Creator, we are still in the same family. Brothers and sisters united in one Truth. Serving one God. Growing one Kingdom. Each set on a different path with a different set of tools.

A hundred years ago all of our churches would have been considered shocking and blasphemy.  A hundred years from now today's church will have taken on an entirely new face, a new label – and probably thousands of different brands.

But the Truth will still be the Truth. And it's how you handle THAT that really matters.

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