Friday, August 8, 2003

What about all these methods and models?

Over the years I have been a part of many churches. I have identified with multiple denominations and movements, many of them having as many different worship styles as they had churches. I have been on staff at larger seeker churches and I have pastored small church plants. I have worshipped in cathedrals, warehouses, "brush arbors" and living rooms. Why do I lay out these credentials? Simply to say that I have no idea what constitutes the "right" way to worship.

As long as I have been in ministry I have listened to many great minds defend or promote one worship style over another. As a young pastor these men would have great influence over me causing me to change directions many times trying to catch the "wave" of what God was doing. I remember moving our small church from a hotel ballroom to a vacant Lutheran church building a few blocks away. While in the hotel we were thriving. There were new faces every week and there was an excitement to all that was going on. But in order to "legitimize" our young church we wanted a "real" church building. Almost immediately upon moving the enthusiasm we had experienced seemed to dry up. We struggled on for some time before moving out of that building back into a more non-traditional facility... one that fit our style.

What is the "right" style?. What constitutes church?
I have heard it said of this or that church that it is a dead church What the person who declares a church as dead thinks they are saying is that the Spirit of God is not evident in that church's services. What the person likely means however is that they didn't feel what they want to feel when they go to that church. There are very few things that grieve me more than to hear someone call a curse on a church by declaring it as 'dead'. Or, even worse, declaring an entire denomination or movement as such.

There is a tremendous spiritual arrogance that is rampant in this country. There are pockets of house churches declaring that the established church is ineffective and dead. There are Pastors and leaders in large established churches that do not consider any church under 100 people as legitimate. Both of these groups are grieving the heart of God and are damaging the cause of Christ with their attitudes and declarations.

In all of my experiences I have found very few people in ministry at any level that did not have a true heart for God. In almost every case they were pursuing to the best of their understanding the vision and the task set before them. I haven't always agreed with their methods or ideas, but I have almost always had to concede that their motives were sincere. This is even more true when applied to an entire movement or denomination. Every Christian denomination on the planet began with a legitimate move of God... Something happened that drew people to God and out of that drawing was born a church or a movement.

This brings up a point... at some point we have to allow leaders to be people... to let them pursue their vision the way they believe it is to be pursued. It is my belief that constantly second guessing our Pastors is, at its core, a pride issue within the followers. We may test for ourselves what our response to our leaders decisions should be, and to pray for them, but there is no place for us to criticize them to others.

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