Occasionally I’ve met people who identify themselves by the name “Christian” rather than with a denominational title because they’ve moved around and attended a variety of churches. They know from experience that they attend Christ’s Church, not a denominational church, no matter where they are. It is, of course, legitimate to ask the question, “Is it possible to be so broad minded as to have no depth?”
How have you experienced Christian worship and practice in another culture or country or denomination that expanded your view of God, worship, or how to live the Christian life? This might include how encountering a different practice led you to a new/different interpretation of some Bible verses. Did you see your own traditional ways with new eyes? Have you actually changed the way you live or work?
While we may also encounter practices that we reject, this is intended to focus on Christian expressions which broaden our horizons in a positive way.
1) D. W. Congdon at The Fire and The Rose asks the basic question,
“How do we define the church?” He takes us on a time travel trip with answers from the Gospels, early church fathers, various creeds, as well as modern denominations.
2) Mark Olson at Pseudo-Polymath discusses visited Roman Catholic Churches in The Philippines which opened his eyes to practices he hadn’t observed before. He goes on to discuss Eastern Orthodoxy.
3) Weekend Fisher at Heart, Mind, Soul and Strength vividly recalls a trip to
4) The Lutheran Zephyr describes encounters with three Christian groups: Evangelical Christianity, Roman Catholicism, and Latino Lutheranism. “I am grateful for the saints of God I have met in these traditions, and give thanks to God for the ways in which I have seen the Holy beyond the walls of my own tradition and culture.”
6) Andy at Sinning Boldly posted Mother Russia: A Reminiscence. There he had “an experiential knowledge of what is meant by worshipping with the whole Church” and observed (and tried to participate in) the physical movements of the orthodox worship experience.
7) D.P. nominated a blog post by the Internet Monk (Michael Spencer) about Christian Unity
Perhaps the rich variety of the Christian world could be viewed as menu choices at a wholesome restaurant. We love our comfort food; we occasionally try new foods; and we’ll be fine as long as we don’t eat just desert. We might be surprised by the joy of a new taste treat, even as we are nourished by the main entrée, the Gospel.
Quite some years ago, our pastor invited some musicians, Roman Catholic relatives of the church secretary, to do the Polka Mass for our church service. I went, even though I was prepared to hate it. I was surprised by joy. The Gospel message was expressed in such simple, straightforward language that it moved me anew. The link has music and pictures of Pope John Paul II and Father Perkovich.
Why do we so often make this all so complicated and set up barriers?
8) Joel Spencer at The Double Edged Sword takes a new and deeper look at Romans 12:2, which talks about the renewing of our mind. “We have been given a Helper, the Holy Spirit, to assist us, convict us, and enable us to be transformed, but we must daily, instance by instance choose to renew our minds.”
Ed. Note: I’m wondering if this is the same thing I’ve heard expressed as “making a daily decision for Christ” in my own tradition?
Three sequential blog posts by three authors discuss “Innovations For Your Church!”
9) Jared at The Gospel-Driven Church posted first.
10) The Internet Monk added several more "shocking" points.
Ed. Note: The comment sections are interesting. A couple of the readers, myself included, thought “HUH? Your church doesn’t already do these things?” I told you I was in a rut. I didn’t know that there were churches that don’t have Bible reading, communion and preaching of the Gospel. Did I understand this all correctly? Is it sarcastic?
Jeff Pinyon at The Cross Reference and Weekend Fisher contributed a diablog discussion of what “having Christ” means and how one becomes “worthy.”
Other Submissions:14) PrincipiumUnitatis gives a number of links to various discussions on the unity or reunion of Christians. “We have to believe that we can tear down those walls that now divide the Body of Christ. Protestants and Catholics are ten years away from being separated from each other for five hundred years. Catholics and Orthodox are forty-seven years from being separated from each other for one thousand years. Come, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us tear down these walls, for the glory of Christ, and the sake of His sacred pierced heart that continues to cry out for the peace and full unity of His covenant people.”
Two blogs discussed where Christians can agree about Baptism.
15) Adrian Warnock cites Lig Duncan and
16) Reformation 21 posts 17 statements that were agreed upon by Dever and Coffin in 2001.
17) And lastly, Pseudo-Polymath discusses how ecumenical differences may be approached.
Ed. Note: If there are problems with the links or my interpretations, please post a comment or email me.
Any other submissions on the topic of the month could be considered for future publication of the CRC. I KNOW that some of you have previously posted about your cross-boundary worship experiences.