Two Kinds of Churches

In the last year or so since I have been at my present job of Music Pastor at Lakeshore Community Church in Rochester, NY, I have come to think of churches as fitting into one of two categories based on how they handle culture.

One kind of church chooses elements for their worship services by seeing them through the lens of “not making anyone stumble.” What do I mean by that? This kind of church looks at culture and, even though they want to be culturally relevant, they stop short of using anything where the source of that element has a character that is question. The concern here is making certain the church does not endorse anything “questionable.” Scripture often referenced here usually includes quotes of being “in” the world but not “of” it.

On the other side of the coin is the church that looks for nuggets of truth in culture, and when they find something, they pounce on it and exploit it regardless of the source. The Scriptures often referenced here are Paul quoting secular poets and Paul’s declaration that he becomes “all things to all people.”

Lakeshore finds itself firmly in the latter position. Here we see value in “redeeming” truths which are presented in less than desirable ways if doing so will enable us to remove a barrier between someone and God. A pastor once referred to this approach as being “willing to get your shoes dirty.”

Case in point. Almost exactly a year ago we were planning a service on purpose and priorities in life. We were thrilled to find that Katy Perry (yes, the I Kissed a Girl and I Think I Liked It Katy Perry) had recently recorded a song called Who Am I Living For. A church in the first category would not have even taken a look at the song because of the source. Since Lakeshore is in the second category we dove in only find an amazing song asking the right question in the right way, with references to Moses and other Biblical figures. We ended up using the song to great success because we were able to leverage music from a very well known cultural source that many non-Christians listen to. As can be expected we had a few people who got pretty upset about the source of the song, asking why the church was endorsing an artist whose lifestyle clearly states she is not following God. The answer? I like what Christ says: “It is not the well but the sick who need a doctor. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

People in the first category of church tend to think church is more about ministering to and taking care of themselves, while people in the latter kind of church tend to be taught that church is about focusing outward while still supporting and building up those who are already in the church. To reach people who are already turned off by church you are going to have do some things differently and risk a little pushback.

What kind of church do you lead or attend?

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2 thoughts on “Two Kinds of Churches

  1. I attend Church at the Bay in Tampa, FL which falls into the 2nd category.

    At this past Sunday Service the Worship Team played Wonderwall by Oasis:

    Today is gonna be the day
    That they’re gonna throw it back to you
    By now you should’ve somehow
    Realized what you gotta do
    I don’t believe that anybody
    Feels the way I do, about you now

    Back beat, the word was on the street
    That the fire in your heart is out
    I’m sure you’ve heard it all before
    But you never really had a doubt
    I don’t believe that anybody
    Feels the way I do about you now

    And all the roads we have to walk are winding
    And all the lights that lead us there are blinding
    There are many things that I
    Would like to say to you but I don’t know how

    Because maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me
    And after all, you’re my wonderwall

    Today was gonna be the day
    But they’ll never throw it back to you
    By now you should’ve somehow
    Realized what you’re not to do
    I don’t believe that anybody
    Feels the way I do, about you now

    And all the roads that lead you there are winding
    And all the lights that light the way are blinding
    There are many things that I
    Would like to say to you but I don’t know how

    [Repeat x2]
    I said maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me
    And after all, you’re my wonder wall

    I found it interesting that I have heard this song numerous times before, however this time I actually listened.

    I think it’s great the there are churches that do this. It can be used for a connection for youth or new followers without being preachy or old fashioned.

    I would like to see more churches do this.

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