"The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body.
So it is with the body of Christ."
1 Corinthians 12:12
I was in church ministry for over 12 years and visited many different churches all over the country through the experience of a traveling ministry. In that time, I had the privilege of being welcomed into so many different styles of church settings.
Here are a few of the styles that I noticed in my travels:
The "Seeker Sensitive" church. This is the place that is of the 90s when the Seeker Sensitive church movement was brand new. They still think that lights and smoke are relevant, have some kind of coffee bar near the front entrance, and have a kickin' band with the metro worship leader in skinny jeans and dark-rimmed glasses. A newcomer would most likely not recognize any of the song lyrics but might be able to jive along to the Dave Matthews Band-esque style.
The "Biker" church. If the Seeker Sensitive church is the 90s, this church is mostly classic-rock 70s. A lot of these folks came out of the Jesus Movement and are still hippies at heart. You'll notice a lot of long hair, beards, and leather. Their songs are set to the tune of Zepplin and Lynard Skynard. There's typically some kind of motorcycle parking and a clearly marked smoking section.
The "Liberal" church. These folks are probably the happiest folks around. They tend to love and accept the people that don't feel comfortable stepping foot into any of the other churches. They meet in bars and coffee shops...or old abandoned traditionalist church buildings. You'll see a lot of tattoos and piercings. They're a mixed bag of race and ethnic stereotypes. The bulletin is full of social activity events in the community and the marriage announcements of the homosexual couples in their congregation.
The "Love Us or Leave Us" church. This church has been doing what it's doing for decades. They aren't too concerned with how the world has changed around them. They are staunch traditionalists and proud of it. They are accustomed to their rituals and liturgy and the congregants feel a sense of peace knowing exactly what to expect from one week to the next. They typically sing from the hymn book and teach from the Bible without much content around current events. They love potlucks.
The "Cowboy" church. This is actually a thing. The congregants typically drive their truck or ride their horse out to a pasture in the middle of a great field. Everything they do looks pretty similar to a traditional church including the songs and sermon. They're just a bit more mindful of the weather--and the cow patties.
There are many, many others. What stood out to me above all else is that God is at work regardless of style and context. The Bible says that each congregation is a body--with a spirit and with a beating heart. Just like each of us, I believe that God is more concerned with the condition of the heart than the style used to communicate the message of God's love to the world.
There are nasty things that go on within the walls of the church. And just like a body, if the heart is sick, the body is sick. If the mind is sick, the heart and body are sick. Sometimes they are sick without even being aware of their sickness. You can't see health or sickness from looking at them. Membership does not indicate health.
One church lavished us on a Saturday night with gifts, food, and a generous "love offering." We were the guests and so they were on their best behavior. But the next morning, when one of the band members walked into the sanctuary, he was not recognized as one of last night's "guests." He was stopped at the door and told to put on a tie. You cannot worship God here unless you are dressed appropriately.
But a church can also be exceedingly well. I found that so many of the smallest, most simple rural churches to be those with the greatest resiliency and wellness. Some of the people with the greatest poverty had the deepest love and the most faithful generosity. One small rural church gave us a case of dental floss. It was all that they had to give. This is beautiful.
It's all about the heart.
So what about you? Do you have a place of worship? Do you know the heart or the condition of the body? What is your part in that? Think about it.