Hebrews 13:15–16 – “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
If you grew up in church, whatever your experience was is probably what you think is normative for church experiences.
As a young boy, I grew up in the Catholic church, and though I didn’t have a real relationship with Jesus at that time, I appreciate the reverence of the Catholic church. The liturgical songs, prayers, and readings show a true devotion to God, and, as a bonus, all of the getting up, sitting, and kneeling down can give you a workout during the service.
Then, I went off to college and met Jesus at the age of 19 reading Romans in a Bible that my then-girlfriend, now-wife Grace gave me. At that point, I figured I should probably find a church that preaches and reads the Bible. I found a church, by God’s grace, with an incredible, Bible-teaching pastor and when he started with “Open your Bible”, I knew I was in the right place.
After that, I was invited to some charismatic and Pentecostal churches and, wow, if you think you can get a workout during Catholic service, these churches turned it up a notch. Their passion and excitement for God, especially in worship, was something I had never seen before.
As a young pastor, I was invited into several churches that would be considered “seeker churches” – those particularly marketing themselves to new believers or those who haven’t yet accepted a relationship with Jesus. These churches are usually strong in hospitality, signage, and communications, making it as easy for people to make it to church and be as welcomed as possible.
What is your church experience?
What I came to learn was that all Bible-believing, Jesus-loving churches have their strengths as well as their weaknesses. I took a little bit from each of these experiences when my family and I planted Trinity Church five years ago and, by God’s grace, I think we do a pretty good job of showing reverence to God, opening our Bibles, having charismatic worship, and being hospitable and relational. Rather than criticizing what other churches may do differently, let’s instead praise and learn from the strengths of what different churches do well because we’re all part of the same family.
What are some of the strengths of your church or what are some of the reasons you chose your church? How can you encourage and befriend those who go to other churches and praise their strengths rather than criticizing their weaknesses?
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