We all feel entitled to have an opinion when it comes to church in general, especially in this day and age where we all feel entitled to say and do whatever we want. “Church shouldn’t be too big, church shouldn’t be too loud with bright lights, church shouldn’t be small, church shouldn’t be quiet, songs sung at church should be soft, no wait – it should actually be loud and free, the people at church should be friendly but not too friendly.” The list of opinions could go on and on, and it probably does. Having an opinion is one thing, but judging how a church chooses to worship and engage with its congregation is another thing.

Healthy opinions vs. insecure defensive opinions

Often people form harsh uninformed opinions of church based on an assumption, on previous hurt experienced at a church, or on what they think they know to be true. I have seen Christians debate online ruthlessly without any love or grace in their conversation when it came to openly discussing church in general. They were almost competing with one another, taking offense and speaking so harshly to one another and bashing one another’s churches down. There was no love or grace in their behavior.  We should have healthy informed opinions, we should seek personal truth when it comes to our faith. We should pose questions, and have healthy discussions about it. However, we should never bash others for what they believe and how they choose to express their faith and love for God. After all we are all unique in the way we worship God and how we express the love and grace of God. What’s more we have all been created in His image, which means although we are so different and unique, we form part of His plan and are an extension of who He is.

Now, I am not saying do “bad” things and label it is as “christian”, and then justify poor behavior by saying “I’m Gods creation”, obviously not. What I am encouraging is to look at church and churches as a collective whole. Every church is different, but loves God, and hopefully aspires to be the best version of themselves according to Gods will. Who are we to judge anyone, without looking at our own personal failings and shortcomings? God is the ultimate judge, and He will hold everyone accountable for their actions.

All churches are different, and that’s okay!

I recently had a discussion with someone who had been hurt at a church, or should I say by people at the church, who are just people and who will therefore make silly mistakes. They were trying to criticize all churches as a whole based on this one negative experience. I could have easily gotten offended, and said something cheeky back as a means of defending my church and my Christian faith. But instead I didn’t, I listened, smiled, and very calmly responded with:

“Every church, no matter the lighting, worship music, or how the pastors communicate, is all different, and all part of the family God has brought together. Every church is different, and that is okay, sometimes we just need to find a church that resonates with who we are.”

Did he try to argue back with a snide cynical comment? No, he listened, and thought about it. Which in turn has kept the conversation of faith an open dialogue. We should never force people to believe what we believe and make them all go to the same church. We are all different, and we are called to worship and build Gods church differently, and that is okay!

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