On Sunday mornings, I sleep as late as I can, then get up and go to church. If I take the direct route, it’s about a ten minute drive to my church and I pass at least four other churches on my way there. If I go by Starbucks on my way there, I pass two more. We have churches in cathedrals, traditional church buildings, movie theaters and more than a few that rent space in public school buildings (including mine). Spanish speaking churches are almost as easy to find as english speaking churches. Traditional worship services (think hymnal and organ) are probably just as common as contemporary services (think drums and guitars). Church is everywhere. Church people are everywhere. Its strange though, that with as much as us locals have in common, our churches rarely work together.
If I ever do see churches working together across denominational lines, it really stands out to me. How do you get Baptists to hang out with the Pentecostals? How do you get Black churches to work with White churches? (especially in the South) How do you get aging conservative churches to worship alongside charismatic churches? The only way it works, is if everyone agrees that the work they are doing is more important than the differences they have.
For the past eight years, my church has been part of what we call, ‘Mission Jerusalem.’ Mission Jerusalem is a week long inter-church outreach to our community. Though it is mainly a youth event, all ages of church members get involved. This year we had at least six different churches involved from diverse denominational and racial backgrounds. Looking back, nothing we did was all that special. In the mornings we played with kids, visited the elderly, and met with people in our own neighborhoods. In the evenings we put on block parties with cheap food, live music and games for kids. What was special, was that very different churches came together with a single purpose and heart to reach our community.
I think a lot of people hear the word ‘church’ and think of close-minded, self-righteous know-it-alls who could hardly be characterized by the word ‘love.’ Those people are out there, but that’s not my church and its not the average of what I see in the other churches in my community. When I look at the churches in my community, I see people who desire to love and to serve. I see people who are willing to put aside their differences and work together.