I cannot help but notice that I find myself frequently being questioned why there are so many different types of churches and what is so different about them. Without a doubt this is a large issue for many, causing confusion, division and perhaps even an overwhelming sense of incomprehension. Each time I’m questioned, I can’t help but feel responsible – as if it’s my role to give an answer.
As a child, I grew up to walk with God and have a personal relationship with him. Over time certain situations have led to moving and experiencing life as a part of many different churches. I have come to know first hand that there are an incredible amount of view points surrounding masses of issues, traditions and styles within the Christian faith. I think that it’s time to put on a pair of sunglasses, polarise such light and rid of glare to truly focus upon the main, vital fundamentals…
If you’ve ever found yourself questioning, “why are there so many different types of Christianity?” then you are not alone. Just a small selection include: Catholic; Church of England; Baptist; Methodist; Evangelical; Pentecostal and even the new found “non-denominational,” such as Hillsong, now growing globally. Why so many?
Simply put, in each denomination, we find different traditions and worship styles. For example, in Church of England services, you’re likely to sing more hymns compared to a non-denominational cafe-style, Hillsong service, where music is as modern as you can get. However this doesn’t mean that all Church of England churches sing only hymns – you will find that many CofE services have a range of music styles… As far as tradition goes, some churches will give more emphasis to different aspects of faith or have different views: Catholic and CofE Churches baptise babies where as Baptist Christians decide to wait until the child is old enough to decide for themselves – they carry out adult baptism.
These are just a few examples however what’s more important, is why. The thing is, we are all different. Everybody is unique. Just as in school, different people take different subjects and have different skills, in the Christian body, we all have different views and styles of worship. We all connect to God in different ways. Some find God in modern music, others through formal tradition or routine… But ask any Christian and they will tell you – how we worship is not important, rather, it’s who we worship.
From an outside perspective (unfortunately aided by the media) the church appears to be divided, as if we can’t agree or get our facts right. But when you dig deep, forgetting about all the insignificant differences, you find fundamental truths. When you filter your vision and look at the hearts Christians, you see not a service or religious practise but instead hearts that love Jesus, are saved by his unconditional love and mercy, and who want to encounter the one true God.
You see there are so many Christians, that it is impossible to all be identical in the ways that we worship – how boring would that be? If everyone on this earth had the same interests, life would be very dull. In the same way, God is a creative God and we can encounter him in endless ways! However we chose to live faith, we place God at the centre and join the greater body of Christ.
There may be differences and sometimes a little conflict but most importantly, we all read the same bible, encounter the same God, know the same love and have the same Christ living within us.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
Just like in the Old Testament there were 12 different tribes, forming one family of God, there are many church denominations forming one kingdom of God. May we be united in this knowledge and come to encounter the one, true God who loves unconditionally and takes us on the most amazing adventures.
P.S. I hope you enjoyed this different, more informative blog post. This is is the first of a new series called “Filter and Focus” that aims to look at certain view points surrounding faith and filter them to correct towards the truth. If you have your own questions, do send them in.