One Heart, One Church

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I realized, after interviewing a husband and wife serving as dual pastors in one church and a senior pastor in another church, that I’ve interviewed quite a few pastors over the years.

Let’s see…there was the delightful Baptist pastor who served his village as a volunteer fireman and also hosted a cooking show on public access TV. Because he was an avid hunter, I scheduled his interview around the first day of open season for some critter or another.

Then there was the middle aged business man turned Presbyterian minister who was now leading a congregation that worshiped in a historical old stone church in the city.

Not to mention the very kind Methodist pastor who, while describing his church’s 125 year history, said he had been ordained as a “circuit riding preacher.” (The American Methodist church was into carrying the Gospel everywhere and only in this century began to leave their ministers in one place long enough to impact a congregation.)

I interviewed an Assembly of God pastor who brought both his business and theological degrees into play in his role as Christian school principal.

And the most recent pastor I interviewed was a construction worker turned pastor on fire to preach and shepherd his flock.

It’s been a blessing to be able to sit and talk with these men and women about their congregations, their own faith walks, and their hopes for their individual churches. Every one of them shared a deep love for Jesus and his Gospel. Each earnestly looked for ways to touch the hearts and minds of their church members and also reach out to non believers or those who have left the church for whatever reason.

It makes me realize how foolish it is to “major in the minor” differences between congregational beliefs. Yes, theology is important, but in the end, I’m positive Jesus will not turn one of his followers away because she picked the “wrong” team. Like these pastors, placing Jesus as Lord over their lives and their church’s life, can only bring blessings and grace from the Holy Spirit.

I know this because each of them sings the same song of faith and love. Indeed, the Christian church, with all its various “tribes” resides under the headship of only one person – Christ.

I believe as membership roles in American churches shrink, clergy of all stripes are coming to grips with the sad fact that churches have been guilty of driving people away by being judgmental, legalistic, and in some cases, just unfriendly to visitors (especially if they weren’t dressed in their best “Sunday-go-to-meeting” clothes.)

Yet some non-denominational churches number their members in the thousands and it’s standing room only on Sundays. I haven’t been to such a church and perhaps would find it not especially to my liking, but I’m sure of one thing. Where Jesus and his love are proclaimed, no one is made to feel too unworthy to worship. I believe that the love for God and one’s fellowman that can be found in these mega churches is the same love I’ve encountered in the pastors with whom I chatted.

There may never be the perfect church for you or me – in my case, the “Church of Susie.” I will disagree with something or other, BUT my soul has found its spiritual home and I truly love my brothers and sisters in Christ just where I am. I believe there is a spiritual home for everyone in the universal Christian Church and I believe, as Jesus promised, if you “knock” you will find. Don’t ever give up.

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