Inspired by 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
12For just as the church is one and yet has many denominations, and all the denominations of the church – though many – are one church, so too is Christ. 13For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Church. Whether Reformed or Charismatic or Lutheran or Methodist or Baptist or Evangelical, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit. 14For in fact the church is not a single gathering, but many.
I hate the divisions, but I’ve come to realize that the Body of Christ is huge, and I mean HUGE. No church can perfectly capture the fullness of Jesus’ ministry, we need each other. Not even the early churches could do it, hence why Paul had different subject matters in each letter. The truth is, there’s something beneficial to learn from the many denominations. For example, take a look at the diversity of some of my inspirations:
- Augustine of Hippo: Christian-Catholic
- C.S. Lewis: Anglican
- Billy Graham: Southern Baptist
- Eugene Peterson: PCUSA
- Tim Keller: PCA
- Donald Miller: ? (emergent maybe?)
Having visited many different types of churches, I thought I’d share some of my observations.
What is common amongst Reformed churches is the high emphasis on Scripture and the reverence they have for God and the Gospel. This is easily what is most important to the lifeblood of these churches, and it is quite encouraging to see how unwavering they are in their faith and mission. There is also a high respect for tradition (doxologies, hymns, creeds, confessions, etc.).
Based on my observations inside of Methodist Churches, the gatherings are very holistic. In other words, in one service you’ll often hear about the love of the Father, the Gospel of the Son, and the work of the Spirit, and how it’s all relevant for your life. That’s impressive to me.
Never before have I visited such big churches and felt so warmly welcomed. The hospitality these churches show to guests and members is quite astonishing at times. They are very generous in their witness and have a high view on evangelism through actions. I also like the openness they have towards people joining the ministry.
I will be the first to admit that every time I’ve attend something akin to a Pentecostal Church, I feel quite uncomfortable. There churches challenge my perspective on how God works in the lives of people. I’ve been prophesied over, and two years later I still agree with what was spoken over me. Many people I love and trust have seen healings take place. Teachers from college were disciplined in speaking tongues. There’s no denying it, God works through all this. What I love most about these churches is how open they are to the Spirit of God working in someone’s life. There is also quite a liveliness to the service.
From what I’ve gathered, the Southern Baptist Convention gives autonomy to their churches, allowing them to have freedom while still maintaining accountability within a network. I am a huge fan of this approach. It recognizes the importance of unified diversity. Additionally, although many great teachers stem from this denomination (Billy Graham, Albert Moehler, David Platt), there is a heavy emphasis on pastoral ministry. There is a Southern Baptist Pastor I meet with every so often in town and I always walk away from our conversations so cared for and refreshed.
It’s time for churches to step-up and begin uniting together across denomination lines. I acknowledge that there are churches that are not true churches and that we should not associate with (Westboro Baptist Church). We will know such churches by their fruits and understanding of the Gospel. As for the rest of us, let us move forward as one redeemed, wholly loved and made holy Church.
“In Essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love” – Augutine