But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.”
-Luke 9:50 (NASB)
We need one another. Not just person to person but the churches in your community need one another. It’s quite disheartening to think of how churches compete almost like adversaries. Legitimately we are The Church of Jesus Christ in the world. The fact that we have been broken down into smaller subset congregations should only be to allow us to mobilize more quickly and efficiently. All too commonly the American way (and especially here in the Deep South) of doing church is to compare one church against another and attempt to decide which is doing it “right”. Division is not the purpose of The Church, rather it should be encouragement. Encouragement to stand tall in the midst of adversity. Encouragement to remind ourselves to always be thinking of widows and orphans and doing something about their position.
One of the greatest dividers and what pits one congregation over another is worship music. That can be worship style, worship length or simply who is leading. What a sad and lowly distraction. We know that God should be glorified regardless of any of those three factors yet we see people jump and skip from congregation to congregation trying to find the perfect blend of all three. More on that topic can be found in my post: “Bloom Where You Are Planted“.
Beyond the interpersonal biases of what is right and wrong in worship preference, our attitude toward other churches has become very much an us-against-them mentality. Brothers and sisters this cannot be. We can’t have the attitude that the disciples had toward the man in Luke (9:50 stated above). They asked Jesus if they should rebuke this man who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Jesus’ response was so clear: “whoever is not against us is for us”. I have to imagine that the person casting out demons had something in his character that made the disciples cringe at the thought that he was doing the work that they also were doing. I suppose that is what divides us today. Not one congregation has everything right but we certainly seem to overlook our own faults much quicker than those of others. Rather, we should support one another in whatever ways we possibly can so that the kingdom of God can be extended.
So, as worship leaders what can we do to make sure that we are joining with other parts of the body to help extend the kingdom of God? The first and most pointed answer to this question is that we have to stop speaking poorly of any other congregation. Quit making that an agenda and only respond on the topic when questions are asked of you that would lead you to say something about the veracity of what is being spoken next-door. The second response is to pray. Pray for what do you know your brothers and sisters are believing that goes against the teaching scripture. Pray that the love of God in their hearts will turn towards the truth. Thirdly, make sure to reach out to churches in your area with the hand of fellowship. I know that is an antiquated phrase, but it’s true. We need one another. We can learn from one another.
I’ve spent the last year making connections all across the Middle Tennessee area where I live for the purpose of refining what I do. I’ve learned new techniques. I have seen different ways that God works. And I’ve been humbled by the willingness of other worship leaders to help me grow. I’ve learned things from leaders in traditional churches to liturgical churches to mainstream evangelical churches to free churches. There is much to be gained and we need one another!
I think one of Satan’s greatest deceptions, especially in America, is helping us to believe that we can look internally for strength and direction. Whatever my pastor has developed in his spiritual walk is what I want and nothing else. While our pastors are certainly the shepherds of our flock we have been called to reach out past the single-minded view of our congregation and look towards the needs of the dying world. We need to remember in prayer all of the four church types planted throughout the world: evangelical, denominational, church planters and the persecuted church. Each has a function to play and each is worthy of our deepest prayers to Jesus.
As you begin to broaden your horizon a little on reaching across church lines remember that we are all on the same team. As in football, one church might be a wide receiver with while another is a running back but we need both to move the football down the field. The greatest point to be made is that we not spend time turning up our noses toward a church but rather spent time praying for the effectiveness of the Kingdom of God.
How do you reach across church lines? Are you making sure that no one on your team uses their time to bash another church or brother? How do you go about making sure of this? What are some of the ways that you do connect with other churches? I would love to hear! Comment or private message…