Is God Big Enough to Be in Your Church ….and Mine?


Is God Big Enough to Be

in Your Church ….and Mine?

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

allsaintschurchThe smells were different. The sights were different. The music was different. And even some of the words were different.

But it was the Same God.

I was attending a worship service in a Christian church culturally and theologically not my own. On first glance, the differences were what bombarded my senses. Incense and icons. Robes of gold and an exquisitely painted dome.

I was reminded of other ‘different’ services I’d experienced in other lands — preaching from a flat-bed truck in Malawi, on the beach in Thailand, gathering in a dark hut in northern Kenya, and sitting in the back pew of a Mediterranean camp church where it was literally “all Greek to me.” Here in the USA I’ve worshiped in gymnasiums, cathedrals, tents, stone chapels and yes, even a Kentucky country church with snake-handlers!

churchcountry         Yet in all these places the same Jesus Christ was lifted up and worshiped — the same Bible taught.

Personally, I would rather embrace my common beliefs with other Christians, rather than focus on our differences. True, there are distinct differences. But we have the same Bible and the same Lord and Saviour.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” (I Timothy 2.5)

            churchnotredameWhy not build bridges instead of erecting walls?

That said, I do acknowledge that ‘different’ can often be uncomfortable. It is human nature to seek the solace of the familiar. And far too often our insecurities prompt criticism — “Why do they sing choruses instead of hymns?” or “Why do they sing hymns instead of choruses?” or “Why do they chant instead of singing hymns and choruses?”

churchmodernDo you think God is actually Big Enough to receive our praise and worship in a whole world full of creative ways? Do you think perhaps that our prayers reach God’s ears whether they are totally spontaneous or whether we pray from the heart the words of an ancient prayer? I do both. And, I assure you, God hears.

Because God knows the heart of the worshiper. He knows whether or not we are focused on Him, committed to Him, believing the words we sing and recite. Somehow I don’t think God cares as much about the form as we do. He cares that we trust and believe and hope and worship.

                            fccsnow2 “May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.” (Romans 15.5-7 NLT)

And whether God’s people gather in an urban storefront or an underground cellar or yes, even an ornate sanctuary, He is among us.

churchorthodoxRecently someone I love decided to continue his faith journey in the tradition of the Eastern Orthodox church instead of the Protestant church in which he’d spent his life thus far. While his calling is different from my own, I can appreciate the fact that expressions of faith and worship are a personal choice.

Frankly, I’m not crazy about religious labels. This Sunday’s New York Times article about Pope Francis’ popularity mentioned two different “evangelical Christians” as examples of two extremes. Interestingly, both of those men mentioned are my personal friends. Though I identify more with one of them, I can appreciate the ministry and heart of the other.

fccinside2I am a Christ follower.  That’s all that really matters. My home of worship is currently (and has been for 24 years) the oldest church in the state of Connecticut. Gathered in 1635, our sanctuary is called The Meetinghouse and we worship in a Puritan white simple edifice with doored pews and a high pulpit and absolutely no decoration whatsoever! In fact, it remains the same as when George Washington and Jonathan Edwards worshiped here hundreds of years ago.

And it couldn’t be a more different atmosphere than the church mentioned in my blog opening.

Yet here I find God. As do hundreds who attend our four Sunday services. Do you find God where you worship? Isn’t that what truly matters?

After all, it’s not about me. It’s about Him.

This weekend I will speak out of state and gather with God’s people probably in a venue unlike my home church. But I will rejoice and praise and pray and listen to the Word. And I will thank God that He is Big Enough to be everywhere.

”Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13.8)

under the mercy, Cindy

©2015 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
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NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!
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4 Responses to Is God Big Enough to Be in Your Church ….and Mine?

  1. Oh Cindy, thank you, thank you. I began writing a blog about this very topic. We were studying John 17 in Bible Study. I almost cried when I read John 17:21 “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” My heart broke because I know too many who put up walls and don’t build bridges when it comes to secondary doctrines of the faith. Imagine the body of Christ in perfect unity like the Trinity. That is my prayer. I am going to re-post this and tweet it. I love you my dear sister in Christ. I pray for you often.

  2. Betsy West says:

    This is wonderful! And something we all need to hear. Thank you!

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Thank you, Betsy and Cherrilyn, for your encouraging comments about this post. Let’s see how we can dwell together in unity! Easter Week Blessings! Cindy

  4. maggierowe says:

    One of your most helpful posts ever, Cindy. Thank you for wrestling this important topic into grace-filled words. Praying for your time of ministry in PA this weekend.

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