Sunday, May 20, 2012

E Pluribus Unum (Christ's Church)

This morning, untold numbers of Evangelical pastors will step into the pulpit to proclaim God's Word.
Many will have extensive theological education - some even with terminal degrees. Others have will have less formal education, yet have felt the call of God on their lives. They have sought to do their very best to study the Bible, and employ the best tools available to help them "rightly divide the word of truth". All of them face the dual challenge of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ to the lost, as well as feeding the flock of God, so they may become better disciples.
They will be affiliated with various evangelical denominations and conventions, and some will even be "independent". Some will be in full time ministry while others are Bi-vocational, laboring in a secular job to support their families.
Some will preach in great sanctuaries of imposing buildings. Some will work in little white churches by the side of the road. Some in storefront missions. Some in house churches. Some in rented theater buildings, hotel meeting rooms, or school gymnasiums, or even in an outdoor setting.
Some will dress in sharp business suits, others in less expensive outfits, yet the best they can afford. Some will dress casual - and some will wear torn jeans and black T shirts.
Some will stand behind a huge pulpit, or some type of lectern. Others will sit on a stool, behind a microphone, or pace the platform like a caged tiger. Some will have great oratorical skills. Some, not so much. Some will raise their voices, as well as a sweat. Some will speak in more conversational tones. Some will actually read their message from a manuscript. Others will preach with the aid of notes. Still others may be note free - and a few may even speak extemporaneously.
Robed choirs singing powerful anthems will back some of the pastors. Praise teams may lead worship in some services. In some churches there will be orchestras or smaller ensembles, providing sacred music. Powerful old hymns will emanate from great organs in some auditoriums. Other congregations will simply be happy to have someone in the crowd who can play the old upright piano. In some churches praise bands will provide electronically amplified music to a beat from a talented drummer. In other churches a single acoustic guitar may be the only instrumental music available. In some congregations, there will be solos and trios and quartets, singing Southern Gospel music. In others there will be only congregational singing - some perhaps, without accompaniment at all.
Some of the congregations will be of only one ethnicity. Others will have people present from differing races. Some congregations will be strikingly older in their makeup. Others may be made up primarily of college students and young adults. Still others will have a healthy mixture of all ages. In some churches many children will be present. In others, not so many.
Some pastors will differ from others in their view of church polity. There will be secondary and tertiary doctrinal differences between them. There will be Calvinists, Arminians, and Molinists - Premillenialists and Amillenialists. Some pastors, even within the same denominations or conventions, may differ sharply on internal denominational issues.
We could go on and on chronicling the difference one may find in worship styles today in evangelical churches of all sizes, around the country and around the world.
One thing, however, unites us, in spite of all our differences, preferences, and idiosyncrasies. It is the Great Commission. The marching orders that Christ has left us are clear. We may take slightly different directions as to how we seek to accomplish it, but we are one in the Spirit - one in the Lord.
Today's prayer: "Lord, use us today for Your glory, and for Your Kingdom. Use us in spite of our differences, and our shortcomings. Make us an instrument of Your grace and peace, and may we be a channel of blessing to the believer, as well as those who have not yet come to You."