This blog is called “Renew Us.” As in, “I’m lost, hurt, broken, confused, frustrated…and I need to be renewed. I need to get energy or get focused again.
It’s a prayer. Please God, give me the knowledge that I need to wrap my head around this situation, and move me forward so I can keep growing with you.
That said, you may feel that it’s inappropriate for me to talk about things like terminology or doctrine. It may seem out of place. But it’s not. Because I think the church and church members — particularly in the evangelical world — are getting hung up on terms and we’re getting confused about what we’re here to do.
For example, yesterday, I wrote about the term “tribe,” and how using that term is not profitable for the church at large. But there’s some other words and phrases that we “throw” out there to define ourselves as individual churches that can be just as confusing for congregants. Unlike “tribe,” these phrases may be helpful for defining our goals, beliefs, and practices, but most congregants don’t know what pastors and elders mean by them.
The most perfect examples may even be the terms that many have used to classify differences in the church. These eight terms are:
Reformed vs. Arminian
Complementarian vs. Egalitarian
Charismatic vs. Cessasionist
Most people have no idea what these terms mean. And it gets even worse when we add descriptors in with these terms. An example would be: “I’m charismatic with a seat belt.”
Defining the terms is helpful for people. You should know what you believe. But the obsession with figuring out the label on ourselves is just insanity. At best, it usually leads you to trying to find a church where others believe like you. At worst, you become a prideful, theological idiot who thinks they are more “biblical” or love Jesus more than other Christians.
If you are wrapped up in the chains of doctrine right now. If you’re ready to just throw your computer against the wall because reading the different histories makes your brain want to explode …. can I just offer this?
Go out and love somebody.
Visit a church this Sunday that’s not like your own and find something they do differently than you’re used to and thank God for it. Talk to a friend who is part of a different congregation and ask what they love about the practices of their church. Recognize that those are not the practices that you’re used to, and then thank God for the ways God is using those differences to heal, restore, and save people.
Doctrine is important, essential even. It helps to test the spirit and to keep people away from lies and myths. But when doctrine becomes exhausting, we need to call a pause. When doctrine makes our heart grow cold towards others, it’s not helpful any more.