I once worked at a publishing company. They had a company policy of dressing professionally. Occasionally, on a Thursday afternoon, someone would announce over the intercom that we could dress casually the following day. We loved hearing that announcement — it was a thrill for us. Years later, we were called into meetings and told about new changes within the company. We were going to have a paradigm shift. They gave everyone a tee shirt with a logo that said
A friend once told me that her church had six Sunday morning services. She explained that everyone wanted to "do church" their own way. Oh, that reminds me, did you read about the minister of a church who told the members to repent (or leave) if they had voted a certain way?
Have you noticed the shift that has taken place in our churches? I grew up with formality in worship services. We dressed up and the ushers helped us to our seats. Before services started, the lights were dimmed, and we all got quiet.
I heard about "worship wars" for the first time last year. Why has our worship become a war? There are many dividing lines among many churches these days: hymns with song leaders using hymnals vs. rousing songs by praise teams on overhead projectors or data projectors; pews vs. padded chairs; suits vs. casual attire; built-in vs. roll-out baptisteries; traditional vs. contemporary worship; King James vs. New Living Translation Bibles; older vs. younger; and sermons with lots of Bible vs. "the talk."
Screwtape advised Wormwood (in C.S. Lewis' book, The Screwtape Letters) to distract Christians by adding something to Christianity so they could become Christians with a difference. He proposed "Christianity and _________" — fill in the blank. Some of his examples were "Christianity and ... New Psychology ... New Order ... Faith Healing ... and Vegetarianism." I'm sure that you can think of some. How about "Christianity and Politics"?
My thinking changed when I visited the Roman catacombs. Christians lived in dark, dreary, dug-outs while in hiding. They weren't concerned about their styles of worship. God isn't either. Let us get over the "style-thing" and strive toward more unity around the One True God.
"Yes, we can!"
And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Greece, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don't need to tell them about it, for they themselves keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the true and living God. And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God's Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment. (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10)