I love this quote by Dr. Chuck Missler:
“Luther reformed it; Free churches freed it; the Baptists baptized it; the Quakers dry cleaned it; the Salvation Army put it into uniforms; the Pentecostals anointed it; the Charismatics renewed it; but “church” was still largely a spectator sport; [merely] adaptations of previous (traditional) synagogue rituals.”
If you’ve ever been to church, or grown up with the tradition rooted in your family lineage, you may have left a service thinking: “Boy — this is weird.”
It is weird.
People sing loudly together.
They greet each other with hugs.
They murmur the odd “amen” or “mmhmm” as a preacher speaks from the front. Sometimes there’s a tambourine or a person declaring that The Lord has a message. And someone inevitably brings an indiscernible jello dish to a pot-luck.
But weird isn’t so bad is it?
Take a moment and think about your family gatherings. Think about the strange idiosyncrasies that exist within your family unit.
As you ponder that, and chuckle at how your strange uncle can burp the alphabet, I want you to consider this:
We were created to commune with one another. We were built to be together.
The joy of the gathering exists in the midst of the strangeness. And what’s fascinating is we’re all very different.
Sure, we may share ideals, and have similar understandings about the Holy Scriptures — but perhaps we don’t. Maybe some of us are still on a journey of knowing there’s something more, but not able to put our finger on it. And that’s okay!
But it’s in the gathering where we can appreciate the glorious tapestry that sees us unite in the midst of diversity.
Church is a beautiful place to experience unity in diversity.
If we were all exactly the same, thought the same, acted the same, walked, talked, and breathed the same, well — we’d be a cult.
Ain’t nobody got time for cults. But we can have time for fellowship, because we need it.
You need it, I need it.
To go back to what Dr. Missler was saying, he makes a good point that the segregational aspect of the church is silliness. It’s all just adopted and passed-along tradition that is built on being a spectator sport rather than a faith that has affected people so greatly that they actually connect in meaningful ways.
Church exists so that people have a place to call home, a community to be involved in, and a group that we can participate in.
In a Biblical sense, church exists for the gathering, edification, and encouragement for all who join.
The book of Matthew from the Bible says this, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Today I’d encourage you to check out church.
Sure, it’s a little weird, but you won’t burn up at the door, and you may get some encouragement.
In fact, you might be the very encouragement that someone else needs.
As we live in strange and interesting times, I think we could all use a little more in-person connection to foster health, healing, and happiness.
So, why not give it a try — it might just change your life!
—- James McFaddin is the pastor of New Life Church in Castlegar.