Today, I met some wonderful Christian brothers and sisters from the local Arabic Church. Their skin colour was different than mine, their cultural background was different, and their native language was different – but we reminded each other we are all from the same Church, we all worship the same God, we are united by the same Spirit.
I am very grateful that God allows so many diverse and beautiful representations of his church to flourish. I celebrate that we can worship God in rows or in circles, informally or liturgically, in living rooms and in mega-churches, contemplatively or loudly, in organic or organised structures. We have so many different personality types and contexts that we need different expressions, different denominations, different models of ministry. Jesus promises to be present when His people gather in His name – without setting too many ground rules for what those gatherings are supposed to look like.
I want to thank traditional churches for carrying the Scriptures and the message of God through the ages and keeping it intact for us to receive today. I want to thank local churches for caring for the folk in your area. I want to thank mega-churches for providing a high-quality, attractional service for those who are seeking. I want to thank progressive churches for engaging in complex dialogue with those who are questioning. I want to thank missional churches for stepping out of your comfort zone and going where God sends you.
This Sunday, my local church is combining with the Arabic Church to share together in a Love Feast. We get pretty excited about these events – not because two churches are coming together, but because there is only one church. No matter how we express ourselves, no matter what clothes the pastor wears (or whether there even is a pastor), we are united as a body with Jesus as the Head. We are members of the same family. And that makes me happy.
This is a repost of an article from August 2013. I’m still thanking God for the many and varied expressions of his church throughout the world.