Wednesday, April 3, 2013

One Mark of a Truly Spiritual Church

“We don’t have bulletins”, said the pastor quite proudly.

“Why not?”, enquires a sheepish visitor.

The pastor confidently answers, “We want to give the Spirit freedom to work and move in our worship services. We do not want to be shackled and confined by some order of service”.


That is a real conversation I overheard in a church that I was visiting. At the time I was giving the pastor a thumbs up. I grew up in a Baptist church where the only time you shouted or raised your hands was if somebody elbowed you in the kidney when you nodded off during the pastors sermon. Therefore, this new found freedom of worship was something I was really digging.

Then it got weird.

Nothing like holding snakes or clucking down the aisle like a chicken. But it just got weird. I never knew what to expect from one Sunday to the next. Would we enter into a building with no chairs and start roasting marshmallows while singing Chris Tomlin songs? Would we see a live goat sacrificed as an illustration for the one week sermon series on Leviticus? Would I be called on stage and exposed for something? How long would this meeting last? Who would be speaking?

I never knew the answer to those questions. And eventually I stopped coming because of that. I started believing that it was less about the Spirit and his activity and more about the ideas that this pastor dude got at 2am after a night of indulging in a Chinese buffet. So I went to a church with a little more order.

Some might say that I was simply uncomfortable with the Spirit’s moving. If I really wanted to be in a spiritual church then I wouldn’t need a crazy church bulletin. Maybe, that’s true. But I kind of think the apostle Paul agrees with me.

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace…But all things should be done decently and in order.

According to Paul one mark of a truly spiritual church is a godly order that intends to build up the congregation. It’s the exact opposite of we-don’t-have-bulletins-because-we-have-the-Spirit dude. I’m not saying that bulletins are necessary. In some instances they are just a waste of paper. But order is necessary. The Spirit works in the midst of order not against it.

So the next time some dude invites you to his church that is really spiritual because they just do as the Spirit leads, you might consider 1 Corinthians 14 before signing up.


  1. Amen!

    There are many spirits, as well. I don't want the worship service to devolve into a free-for-all of people going their own directions on whatever whims they happen to be on that day.

  2. Speaking as someone who attends a relatively charismatic church, but also has a certain amount of order, I think the issue that many charismatic churches have is that their God is too small. They seem unable to grasp a God who plans, sometimes weeks, months, years, even decades in advance.

    (Having said that, I've been in many churches which are so strictly ordered and defined, because their God is also too small - unable to break out of their predefined box of order. The key is to have both)



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