Thanks to my friend Tanya, whose heartfelt conversation with me helped stir and focus these thoughts.
Scripture talks about God’s church being like a body. And when it talks about the body, it talks about a lot of different parts needing to work together. It talks about all these parts needing each other. So eyes can’t say to feet “We don’t need you”. And ears can’t say to fingers “You aren’t ears so you are doing life wrong”. I realize this is a loose translation by stick with me. Toes can’t say to noses, “Noses are outdated and no longer relevant. Turn into toes or you are in trouble”. And heads can’t say to knees, “I am the biggest so I am right about everything and you should try to copy me and be a head like me”.
The point of Scripture is that the body needs all its parts to function the way they were designed to function with each part slightly different than the others but still united and it needs all its parts to get along and work together.
Often when we talk about this picture found in Scripture we talk about the local church and use it as a plea for the local congregation to get along and value each other’s gifts and all that good stuff. And we need to talk about that. But what if we also talked about the larger Church when we thought about this picture?
I am growing more and more concerned about how we talk about each other’s churches. And I am not just talking about Free Methodists talking about other denominations or movements. I am talking about how we talk about each other.
We stand up and declare that churches that attract crowds are wrong and shallow. We declare, “Attractional is dead”, despite the fact that there are several larger churches that are doing a wonderful job of reaching the people we lament we can’t reach. Yet we bash them instead of cheering them on and trying to learn.
Or, we boast of our crowds, business and programs and we look down on people who don’t do things the way we do – which after all must be right because we have a crowd. So we dismiss the smaller church that faithfully disciples people and sends them out to live on mission in the community, making an impact that our new flashy program never will. And we don’t stop to listen and learn from their wisdom.
We use our buzzwords, hobby horses and preferences to talk badly about others and pump ourselves up instead of seeking unity and trying to work together to further the Kingdom. We openly question the character and integrity of others who don’t do “it” exactly the same way we do, or who don’t read what we read, and so on. We jump on bandwagons and dismiss those who don’t join us. Or we stay the same and never innovate or change to find new ways of reaching new people. It’s wrong. And it’s sad. We are the Body of Christ. We need to act like it.
Lately a number of us have been taken by the question, “What kind of churches does Canada need?” My answer: ALL KINDS. We need all kinds of churches because there are all kinds of people out there and there is no one way to reach them all. Every model or style or preference or program or approach has strengths that we need to use in context and weaknesses that we need to account for and respond to. Every model, style, preference, program or approach. Even yours.
So let us focus on playing the role Christ (the Head) has given us in His body. And let us work together for His Kingdom sake. Let’s learn from each other and celebrate with each other and help each other as we can.
So please. Be careful how you talk about other churches – that is Jesus’ bride you are talking about. He loves her very much. How dare we speak ill of her.
Director of Church Health, FMCIC