Birds of a Feather Don’t Generally Get Along

August 26, 2009

I commented a couple of weeks ago that if there’s one thing Christians like doing, it’s finding out who’s ‘in the club.’

By that I mean finding out who’s a Christian?

Now if someone isn’t a Christian, case closed. We know what box to put him in. The hell-bound, needs-to-be-saved-box. Neat and tidy. Commence strategic tract deployment! Witnessing formation, soldiers!

But what to do when you find a new Christian friend? It seems great, like you’ve shared a top-secret Jesus handshake. You are both in the club, with your magic decoder rings. But the joy is often short-lived.

Because, once you find out someone is a Christian, how can you be sure they’re the right kind of Christian? A Christian can’t fit in one box like a non-Christian can. Approximately half a second after finding a new Christian friend, the joy is often killed as the questions start to creep in…

What church does he go to? I think I’ve heard of that one. Which denomination is that? It better not be one of those ‘emerging’ churches I’ve heard about. I wonder if they have gays in their church. I wonder if he’s pre or post-millennial. I wonder if he speaks in tongues. I wonder if he votes Republican. Does he support the war, or just the troops? I bet he recycles. But is it because he’s a tree-hugging environmentalist, or just a good steward? He just ordered an organic coffee with soy milk. Just great. I hope he’s not a vegan. They’re always a pain. He better not drink beer though. I’d better say something before this silence gets too awkward…

I suspect none of you think of any of those questions about me, and I don’t do it to you either. I suspect that’s because blogging is about the most remote relationship two Christians can have with one another, and that usually keeps it fun. We don’t know if the other one is a raving left/right wing lunatic, so we can be blog-buddies.

I told you that I purposefully avoid politics on my blog because I know what I believe, and I know I’m absolutely right, and I’d hate to find out some of my readers are dead wrong and probably going to hell for thinking such backwards thoughts, despite the fact that they’re brothers and sisters in Christ.

But the closer the relationship gets between two Christians, the more they have to be the ‘right kind’ of Christian to get along in all likelihood. Like if I want to ask someone to write a guest blog for me, it could be any old Christian. If I want to go for a cup of coffee, again any Christian will do. But if I’m going to have a second cup of coffee, he’d better start making sense, or I’m headed for the door. If he wants to have a Bible study with me, he’s got to have his head on straight, and if I’m looking for someone to help me move, I’d better just go with Jesus himself, because that’s really personal. I can’t just have a crazy Bible-thumping cultist handling my delicates.

I bring all this up because I pastor a house church. House churches are great, but they can be a bit like little islands. I’ve recently begun searching out all the other house churches in my city, and it turns out there’s a lot of us. I have this wild fantasy of a loose network of house churches, building each other up, encouraging one another, because we have Jesus and houses in common.

Is it even possible? The grand test is if we can get along…in person. Because other than Jesus and houses, we really have nothing in common.

Our church is middle of the road Protestant. We could be Presbyterians if we weren’t non-denominational. Another one is Emergent/Missional. One church is much more Baptist, and another is Charismatic, so that right there is asking for a cock-fight to break out. In any other situation, the only time these groups would be together would be some big inter-faith summit where everyone shakes hands and plays nice, but still tries to ‘out-pray’ one another in the big prayer line-up. The Methodists always seem to lose those…

Can I defy 2,000 years of church history? Can churches from very different streams come together to do something great? Or are we just not the right kind of Christians? Have you ever seen churches defy the odds and team up for Jesus?

Before you comment on that, I just want to give a quick shout out. This post is also being published via Transparent Christian Magazine. When you’re done here, check them out. It’s a thoughtful and well-written collaborative blog I respect and enjoy.