The last post struck a chord with me because in Germany, we didn’t have Select-A-Church. The alternatives in Harburg, the 100,000 people suburb where I lived, were the following: A Lutheran church. A Catholic church. A 50 people Apostolic church that was pretty ingrown. A 50 people Baptist church. Any other church was in Hamburg-proper, at least an hour away by bus and subway.
That was it. If you where a believer, that is you chose God, then you didn’t have really worry about what church to choose. The map was split up in geographic areas with one Lutheran church in it, and that determined what church you went to (the same thing was true for the Catholic churches; just their areas were way bigger since there were a whole lot less of them in Northern Germany.) Now I am not remotely tooting the horn of the German Lutheran church – there are a wholelotta things wrong with what is happening over there.
But to me that system has a certain appeal – you had to get along with these people that you did not choose. Pietists and Charismatics had to learn to live alongside each other and tolerate each other. Different “strains” had to each find a way to express themselves and yet remain part of the church itself and work together. There was something good about that. It was, like Kim said, sort of a family. People I maybe would not have picked to be around, people different from myself, people with pretty different ideas of how to worship God, all having to figure out how to do that, live alongside each other, and not kill each other.
I wonder what it was like in the early church, with often just one church in town,……