Extreme Church Differences: Or Are They?

361px-Histogram_example_svgA family friend passed away a few weeks ago. We went to his funeral recently, which was held at a traditional Lutheran church. It was a formal, pleasant, and moving ceremony. The organ played, a choir sang, the congregation and pastor did responsive readings, and the pastor preached about the deceased man’s hope in Christ. That evening we went to a Winter Jam concert featuring several famous Christian bands and artists. The music was so loud I could feel the thump, thump, thump, of drums and bass in my chest. Thousands of people attended, though it was predominantly a young audience. Fans danced, sang, swayed, stomped their feet, lifted their hands, prayed, took pictures with their mobile phones, and lit up the arena with thousands of lights from smartphone aps.

I couldn’t help but think of the contrast between the funeral services that morning and the concert that night. And yet both events provided followers of Christ a means to worship God. This raises the question: are some church format’s overly dry while others are uncomfortably glitzy? Absolutely! But I must admit I felt God move my heart in both venues that day. Solemn AND lively expressions of faith have tremendous poignancy when you see that coffin in front of the church altar. Solemn churches show us how to have reverence for the God who defeated death (the most serious subject of all) on our behalf. Lively church venues show us how to celebrate the God who defeated death on our behalf.

If you only experience God’s presence through one style, I encourage you to try new styles now and then. It will enrich your faith and expand your encounters with God. It will empower you to move between diverse expressions of faith without feeling dry or out of place. It will broaden your community of fellow believers. Warning: You may find yourself occasionally visiting a church with an unhealthy style. (If they break out a box of poisonous snakes during worship, well, LEAVE!) I believe the Holy Spirit warns us when we are in an unhealthy style of worship. But we have to be listening to the Spirit’s promptings. On the other hand, it is too easy to let our preferences stifle the Spirit’s attempts at touching our hearts. When we set limits on how we allow God to communicate, well, that’s extreme . . . extremely limiting and unfulfilling.

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Posted on November 30, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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