Using The Tools In The Shed (Even If They’re From The Dollar Store), Or The Master Denomination

Sometimes when I’m out on a bike ride I can’t help but notice the large number of churches around. For living in the famously unchurched Pacific Northwest we still have tons of ’em. In fact I counted four on the same mile stretch of highway outside of town.

I get to thinking “why are we so divided?… Imagine how great it would be if we were all together. Imagine how great it would be if we abandoned all our little churches and were together like a true body.”

But then I remember that mega-churches aren’t an ideal alternative.

Is there a denomination or version of Christianity that is the one? Could it be the Methodists, the Lutherans, or the Pentecostals, or by surprise the Eastern Othodox, or what about those Emergents? Who gets “it” and who doesn’t? Why would God seem to be working with conflicting versions of the faith? How can each denomination claim that God is working in and through them when they are doing a very different thing than the different denomination down the street?

I think, they can say this, because God is at work through them both.

God uses what’s around. Though he can make something out of dirt – he seems to prefer the dirt that’s already semi-formed (ie us). He doesn’t wait to use someone until they’re perfect- he uses them where they are.

God uses what's around, crazy as it seems.

People get baptized into the Pentencostal tradition every day, as do people into the Baptist way. I’m fairly critical of the Baptist way in light of my own problematic upbringing – yet God is still blessing them and adding to their numbers. That seemed a big contradictory to me…

I think God takes who’s around and uses them to transform the people they encounter. So even though there are plenty of flaws with the Baptist way God still forms people into Baptists. He doesn’t make each believer into the master denomination where everyone gets it exactly right. It’s taken me a while to see this.

The truth of the matter no one gets it perfectly – and yet God doesn’t seem to mind. It’s a startling idea to me – that God isn’t concerned with us having everything aligned just right.

Which denomination gets it? How can the church be more unified? Why do you think conflicting denominations can both thrive?

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19 Responses to Using The Tools In The Shed (Even If They’re From The Dollar Store), Or The Master Denomination

  1. To ask which denomination gets it is to imply that there is a Master Denomination while all others are wrong, either in large ways or in small ways.

    Denominations are formed because of the human tendency to gravitate to people that we agree with. We don’t like to argue all the time, and if we are around people that we disagree with, we will argue. So we form separate churches to avoid the fighting.

    It cracks me up when people who prefer small churches get on a high horse about unity and ask why there are so many different churches. Sorry 🙂

    • I would say I prefer no church in our traditional sense – as I don’t care for Sunday mornings. I prefer fellowshipping with other believers – and that’s not something I do when I’m sitting in a pew – and fellowshipping with other believers is, truly, church.

      I also think there are so many denominations because, well maybe because the Bible is so open to interpretation. They all emphasize different points.

      • David says:

        Then where do you get taught, have communion, and pray? It can’t always be about having a brewski with a good friend, can it?

  2. Since none of us are “right” then differences will happen. The question becomes what do we do with these differences? Do we fight like small children? Do we peacefully disagree? Do only discuss differences and why we are right? Or do we discuss how we are alike?

  3. Jason says:

    I don’t think any denomination “gets it.” The way I’ve read everything, all a denomination truly does is add man made rules on top of the Gospel.

  4. Amy says:

    C.S. Lewis has this illustration in which all denominations are in the same hallway….I sort of like that idea.

  5. Carla says:

    Charlie, it’s so refreshing to see a post that challenges the “rightness” of different denominations. I’ve talked till I was blue in the face about how silly it is to divide on denominational lines. When it comes down to it, we all believe the same important things and disagree in some pretty minors things. It can be fun to discuss. But should you try to convert an already Christian friend to your church’s thinking and have them leave their church? No. No one is right. No man at least. Denominations are not God’s creation, therefore they aren’t going to get everything right. But we can join together to do His work.

    I went to a church and was warned about participating in this great Gospel led homeless ministry because it was developed by hard-lined “Lutherans”. Basically feeding the hungry is no good if you don’t believe in speaking in tongues or God’s supernatural power. Huh. That’s lame.

    You’ve got it completely right. God uses people where He can. If we are willing to do His work, He will use us to touch lives. God doesn’t care what denomination you are. He cares about your heart, your relationship with Him, and your obedience. We used to lead an inter-denominational Bible study, it was so great. It was just people seeking the Lord, and we all went to different churches. We are all one body, in Christ.

    • Carla you are so affirming! Thank you so much!

      I agree we shouldn’t try to convert one another to our branch or brand – but we try to convert people all the time (especially online).

      The cool thing is your inter-denominational bible study comprised of people from different churches was church itself. I would even say true church, if there is such a thing.

  6. David says:

    The Bible says that the wheat (believers) grows amongst the tares (nonbelievers).

    Numbers and Baptisms are not success, disciples that advance the Kingdom preaching the Gospel, healing the sick and casting out demons are. Agreeing with each other is not unity. Unity is working for the same cause, to advance the Kingdom by doing the will of God. The requires hearing His voice and obeying it. The fruit of which is power, not talk, not debate, and not winning arguments.

  7. Larry Hughes says:

    I am an odd ball when it comes to religion. I don’t subscribe to to any particular religion or denomination. I only am focused on serving as Jesus leads me. It might be in a church but mostly I feel led out side of the church to advance the Kingdom. That way I avoid all the politics that is found in the church enforced by man. Not only that, it puts me in a position to reach out to others that usually are not attending a church but are seeking salvation and God’s grace.

    No church run by man’s ideals only is a body of Christ. The body of Christ is one of
    hearing His voice, serving others, and as David says obeying His will.

  8. Chris says:

    Disagreement Between Paul and Barnabas found in the book of Acts.

    36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

    I’ve read commentaries where Paul and Barnabas’ “sharp disagreement” was actually more like an argument where they were probably literally screaming at each other. And the Bible doesn’t declare either one as being right.

    If Paul and Barnabas can have disagreements and separate, what makes us think that we are above such things.
    A funny thing happens when people get together. They disagree. It’s not a crime.
    I think this is a big clue telling us (as the saying goes) that unity does not have to mean uniformity. We are human. We are strung differently.

    *%/#! happens.

    • great point, truly. I think where we get hung up is thinking we need to end all disagreements (by getting the other person to cave).

      • David says:

        Do note, whose writings have persevered through the ages. 😉

        I have a lot going on this morning, but there is a verse, probably in one of the Timothys that speaks to allowing the Spirit to resolve differences in teaching.

        As noted earlier, God is not about pulling up the tares because it may in fact destroy some of the wheat. Jesus said be the wheat that you re called to be, and I will judge the rest – err… or something like that.

        The idea that we need to defend our doctrine is stupid. If the Kingdom of about power (and it is!), the truth will bear supernatural fruit.

  9. StephenT says:

    After all that Abraham had been through, and just one year before the birth of Isaac, I believe that perhaps Abraham makes a statement that helps us to see why denominations are the way they are:

    And Abraham said to God, “O that Ish’mael might live in thy sight!” And God said, “No…” (Gen 17:18-19)

    The human heart forever wants to contribute toward its own salvation. The denominations are perhaps not much more than the different ways we put forth our Ish’maels before God and ask that they might live in His sight.

    “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.” (2Cor 4:7)

    Perhaps where all denominations get it a little bit wrong is that they are trying to get their vessel to have just a little better sparkle than the rest. (sigh)

    For me, this all relates to a poem in progress:

    The Treasure’s Vessel

    I savor but surrender not.
    I behold without embrace.
    The scandal of this cornerstone.
    The enormity of grace.

    Ah, good news is one thing.
    Sinners welcome a lowered bar.
    GOOD NEWS too good for our trust to contain,
    Now you’ve gone too far.

    Now to find the life I thought was mine,
    Striving won’t obtain.
    Now walking by the best of sight
    Is, all in all, in vain.

    Even small unbelief becomes the leaven of each day,
    Equipping every fleshly fiber to resist another Way.

    There must be something I can try.
    “Oh that Ishmael might live”, I cry.
    The answer, “No”, preserves far more,
    Even the substance of things hoped for.

    The promise, as foretold, surpasses Adam’s flaw.
    True bread sustains a new creation, forever dead to law.

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