Church is Like A DoJang
Growing up we moved around a lot and I went to a lot of different places to study the martial arts. Some were ‘just fine,’ average. They taught their style and that was it. Once in the dojang you were unaware that any other style of martial arts existed.
A few dojangs were exceptional. They interacted with other martial artists. We went to tournaments, demonstrations and seminars that were given by a wide variety of different martial arts styles. When we returned to our dojang we examined what we had learned. Some techniques were deemed ‘good’ and were added to our list of self-defense teachings. Other techniques were discarded. Some, when more thoroughly examined were found to have flaws in them that showed they only worked when your partner went along with it. Still others were ‘okay’ but did not fit in well with how we did things. We learned much in these schools.
Another group of dojangs not only isolated themselves, but felt the need to put down all of the other martial arts schools in the vicinity. In almost every class we heard why our school was better and why the teaching at the other schools stunk. How our instructor knew this, since we never interacted with the other schools, was beyond me, but most people bought it, felt proud, and repeated it to others.
Churches are like this too. Some churches keep to themselves. They are nice places to go, and everyone behaves pleasantly, but there is little interaction with the greater body of Christ.
Some churches however do more than keep to themselves. They put down the other churches. Sermons frequently mention some other church, or people group, with the intention of putting them down. The church, or people group has done nothing ‘new’ to deserve comment, and typically no one in the congregation was even tempted to join that group in doing whatever they are currently ‘bad’ for doing. For this reason the preacher gets a lot of ‘amens’ because no one is questioning anything he is saying. He is speaking on a topic no one in his congregation is confused about or needs clarification on. They already know how the church feels on this subject and agree. This is not Christ-like. This is puffing yourself up for no other reason than to make yourself feel good that you are not like them, the sinners.
Other churches do not mind interaction. They will encourage their members to go to concerts, seminars or other events in other churches because they are a good opportunity to learn, or worship. But, like the Bereans, they will also be open to honest discussions. Some are theological, but others are more mundane, like ‘Do you think we should have a coffee bar?’ Either way the church grows and functions more like the church that was described in the New Testament, giving hospitality to people who traveled far to share what they have learned and to learn from their church as well. It is this type of church that we should strive to be.