Have you ever heard any of the following?
- All that church cares about is numbers. That's more important to them than obeying Christ.
- That church is so small because it is not relevant.
- I connect with God more in a small traditional setting; I don't see how you can attend a big contemporary church.
- People that attend that small church are an uppity click.
- The music at that church is outdated.
- The music at that church sounds too much like the world.
- Old hymns have such rich meaning and depth; contemporary songs are so repetitive and meaningless.
- I don't even understand what the hymns are saying. Who would want to go somewhere where they sing those?
- Spiritual gifts like tongues and prophecy aren't relevant for today. Satan is just using that to take them off-track.
- If you don't speak in tongues or prophesy, then you mustn't really be a Christian.
- They dress so casual at that church they are insulting and disrespecting the Lord.
- They dress up so much at that church the average person feels out of place.
- They should change the name of that church to be more inviting; people associate bad things with that denomination.
- I can't believe they took their denomination off of their name; that's just a way to lure people and be more like the world.
- I can't believe they preach out of the King James Version. Who can even understand that?
- They don't use the King James Version. Don't go to that church.
- You shouldn't go to church on Saturday. That's not the Sabbath.
- Why do you go to church on Sunday? Isn't that supposed to be a day of rest?
Ouch. I mean really ouch.
I've heard all of the above. Mostly from believers. I'm sad to say I've even spoken some of it in the past.
This winter I watched a YouTube video forwarded to me of several Christian leaders condemning certain types of worship music and promoting other forms as godly. The music they were condemning I have witnessed impacting people for Christ.
I also read two different articles by Christians promoting one style of church as more godly than other styles.
All of it hurt my heart.
I thought, "Is this really what the body of Christ is suppose to look like? Do we really spend so much time "eating our own?"
How this must grieve the heart of God and make the enemy dance in delight. Divide and conquer. Disunity. Pride. This focus.
It nudged me on to do some studying of the early church and what it looked like. What it was striving to look like. What its leaders encouraged. How the church body grew so quickly.
I found many things. Like overflowing with thankfulness. Being devoted to teaching God's word, fellowship and prayer. Giving to those in need. Sharing the good news. Encouraging each other, especially in the faith. To be united in love. To praise God. To do miracles, prophecy, preaching, confessing, and much more.
And yes, I even found admonishing, correcting, rebuking, warning, and refuting. But in patience. In humility. In love.
These are all great things. I want these to be my focus. Loving God and others; telling the hurting and lost the most amazing, transformational, good news in this world; understanding all I have received in Christ and thus all I can freely give; and sharing with my brothers and sisters in Christ how God is working.
The world desperately needs you and I to reach through our church walls and grab each other's hands. I am seeing some exciting, unifying and world-changing movements of the body of Christ. And I am so excited to see how God is going to move through the church in the coming days!
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11a