Have you ever visited a church from a different denomination? Things can be a little awkward at first. Am I supposed to take communion as soon as I get some bread or do I wait for everyone else? Maybe all the songs are completely different. Sometimes even an old hymn has been changed or you discover a verse you never knew existed! You might find yourself reciting prayers from a screen or suddenly be in an open prayer time where people are praying all over the place.
Despite these novelties, visiting with brothers and sisters from a different denomination can be a huge blessing. Moving states has given my family the opportunity to find a new church home. In our search we have visited Anglican, Baptist, and Brethren churches.
My biggest struggle with picking one was that I liked them all! Each denomination has different strengths and weaknesses. I like to focus on the strengths and appreciate the creativity we have been given by God to worship Him.
My most extensive experiences have been in the Presbyterian Church, in which I grew up, and the Brethren Church which I have been a part of since I got married. Some things about these churches are complete opposites, yet I have been able to appreciate them both.
What’s so great about Presbyterian Churches?
Because I grew up in this denomination, there were many things that I didn’t even think to appreciate until I got married and moved churches. Up til then I had assumed that all churches did things our way.
A huge benefit of the Presbyterian Churches I grew up in, in my opinion, is having a Bible College trained pastor. The resulting consequence of this training is to handle God’s Word with great skill and understanding and then to share clearly and eloquently the message of Truth.
That is not to say that people who haven’t been to Bible College cannot do this. I simply appreciate that this higher level of training is a great blessing to the church and has been a blessing to me as I matured as a Christian. Of course, there are many other denominations that also have pastors with this training and skill.
When I got married I had to adjust to the Brethren way of doing things. A key part of this is not having a pastor at all! In my church, the mature men of the church all pitch in to preach throughout the year and any believer can be called upon to lead communion, sharing a short reflection before they do so.
Another aspect to the Brethren church is “Open Worship”, a time where anyone in the church can pray aloud, share a Bible passage, request a song, or give a testimony. Basically, there is a huge emphasis on everyone in the church pitching in.
As I grew more comfortable with this system, I became excited about the opportunity it provided for me to share with others what God was doing in my life. It was also a blessing to hear from so many people with different perspectives, even different theology.
So what denomination am I?
Someone on the street once asked me if I was a “Brethren”. I was somewhat confused by the question. I answered tentatively that I went to a Brethren church. I don’t identify myself as Brethren or Presbyterian or any other denomination. I am simply a follower of Jesus who enjoys worshipping God with other believers.
I am thankful that communities of believers can get together and, through various formats and structures, serve each other and the people around them. Side issues like what songs we sing or how communion is dispensed aren’t really that important. What’s important is that churches are filled with God-loving people who genuinely want to serve and obey Him.
For me, I have had the privilege of worshipping God with believers in all kinds of denominations. Some systems go against my preferences or even my understanding of Scripture. However, I can and do value the differences between churches because I benefit from those differences. They allow me to grow, learn and worship God.
Lucinda is a stay at home mum who loves baking, reading and eavesdropping on her toddler.