What Church Looks Like

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South African children, legs confined to wheelchairs, hands and hearts lifted high in worship and praise to their God. This is church.

A priest administering the sacrament. His congregants kneeling in prayer during mass. This is church. 

Steeple shining against blue sky. Pews filled with people, hymnals open, singing cherished songs. This is church.

Rows of chairs filling an auditorium. Hands raised across the room as a band leads in worship. This is church. 

Individuals, most never having met face to face, in front of their computer screens listening and discussing through technology as a pastor shares a message. This is church.

God can meet us in any kind of service. He can reach anyone in any type of service. Whether it is a “high church” service to one that meets in an old furniture store in a strip mall to a group meeting in a home.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been asked a couple of times about the church we attend. I love talking about it and the freedom I have found there, but once they realize it doesn’t look like “church” is “supposed” to look I see this invisible wall appear.

My theory, as uneducated as it might be, is that the enemy wants it this way. He wants people to be afraid of something that looks different than a traditional church service. He wants people so comfortable that they are afraid of change or something that looks different than what they have always been taught.

But if we were to go back to the true traditional, the original church that Christ began & the Holy Spirit settled on with tongues of fire, it never looked like stained glass windows, pews, a steeple and Sunday school.

There is beauty in every type of church service. From the beautiful liturgy and common prayers of Catholic and Episcopal services to the church meeting in a strip mall store front.

The bible tells us “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” yet how often do the expectations we have concerning how church should be done inadvertently condemn and push people away because the person feels that they will never measure up or because that way doesn’t work for them? How many people who are seeking feel that they are not good enough to walk through our doors?

Has our divisiveness about which way is the right way to “have church” paralyzed much of the power God wants to give us to change the world and pushed those who are seeking away?

I am beginning to believe that the enemy is fighting to keep the walls and divisions among believers because then no one is focused on loving the lost or each other or God. I’m just as guilty as anyone. I often catch myself judging another’s way of worship when really there is grace enough for church to look as varied as the people He created.

When it comes down to it it doesn’t matter how we worship or what our church building looks like. What matters is if God can use us. And if we’re too busy condemning each other or condemning those who do not believe in Christ then we are powerless for Him to use us.

And when we’re powerless we’re exactly where the enemy wants us to be.