Nearly every week I am in a different place. Meeting and associating with different people and congregations weekly has been an educational process. Though all of the 70 congregations that I have some responsibility for our in the same denominational family I can assure you that no two of them are exactly alike. People and congregations are not created via a cookie-cutter, rather several unique variables are readily observable. You know this to be true that our God in His creating wisdom loves color and variation. For instance, every fingerprint is different and no two snowflakes are the same. It is just a fact of life that we are each one unique an original copy. Observe any family and you can see this principle at work. Children with the same parents and the same environment yet they are different from each other. They possess different skill sets as well as unique personalities. there are many reasons and explanations for our differences. A simple straightforward explanation is that God intended it to be this way. Look at all of the different colors and species of animals as well as the varied landscapes around the world. God loves variety!
As I have pointed out the differences we must not overlook the similarities. With all of the different colors in the world, they still come from the same palette of color. The uniqueness of each human being does not take away from the fact that we are similar as well.
I have entitled these days of my life as ‘no two weeks the same.’ For instance this past Sunday I was in a service with a high-energy worship band and worship leader there was even a fog machine. Lighting was minimal and coffee was everywhere. The second service I was in on Sunday we sang from a hymnal with piano accompaniment and the sanctuary was well lit And there was no coffee anywhere. interestingly these two churches are no more than a mile or two apart and both are an active part of the same denomination but they look nothing alike. Which one did I like best? Both! In reality, I felt comfortable in both places.
having highlighted just a few of the differences between these two congregations allow me to highlight the similarities.
- Music helped us worship in both places
- both services offered the preached Word
- we prayed together
- we were challenged to be missional
- we were challenged to get involved
- the people were joyous
- the people were warm and friendly and inviting
- I could attend either church on a regular basis
It seems to be the residue from our culture that we focus on what divides us rather than on the things that unite. Differences and choice are in and of themselves not bad things. If you like hamburgers you have multiple places and varying styles as to where you may buy and consume the sandwich. There is not just one hamburger joint take it or leave it. With the population growing and the growth of our congregations not keeping pace, we need as many viable expressions of the body of Christ as possible. please do not misunderstand and think that I am for watering down the gospel or compromising the biblical witness in any way. the Holy Spirit has led the church down through the centuries to keep the main thing the main thing and preach the gospel to the present generation is what we have been tasked to do. So are we different from each other? in many ways we are indeed, yet our foundation is the “same. For our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness!”