Christianity 201

January 25, 2015

It Takes All Types of Churches…

 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  I Cor 12:4-7

I’ve copied excerpts from books here before, but this is the first time I’ve ever copied a table of contents. The reasons are twofold: First, I wasn’t given a review copy, and second, I haven’t started the book yet. But the table of contents is impressive.

Ten Most Influential Churches - Elmer TownsWe had a pastor who repeatedly quoted a U.S. pastor who said “It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.” Every church has something special to offer. The parish system — where you simply attend the church located closest to where you live — has some things in its favor, but for centuries now, Protestants have chosen their place of worship based on a variety of factors, some doctrinal and some, if we’re honest, that are totally superficial.

I also had a missionary friend who said, “Every denomination is an overstatement.” What he meant was that if you have a particular distinctive, you are going to emphasize that above everything else, which means that sometimes other priorities will fade into the background. So our churches often feature a particular facet of ministry life, but may do so at the expense of something else. Hopefully nothing that should be absolutely central is diminished beyond recognition.

The book is, The Ten Most Influential Churches of the Past Century: How They Impact You Today by Elmer L. Towns, published by Destiny Image. I’m not quoting the index verbatim here, I just want to give you an overview. And there are more than ten chapters! I’ve combined a few here, and listing does not imply endorsement.

  • The worldwide Pentecostal movement
  • House church / Home church movement
  • Churches at the forefront of racial integration
  • Church structures using a network of cell groups under a central administration
  • Churches built on Christian Education / Sunday School outreach
  • Churches using non-traditional teaching methods
  • Churches targeting seekers, skeptics; the non-churched
  • Baby Boomer churches
  • Worship/Praise driven churches
  • Integrated media, or internet-based churhes
  • Churches promoting multi-generational appeal and programs
  • Positive-thinking or prosperity teaching churches
  • Churches built on personal evangelism
  • Churches focused on foreign missions
  • Multi-site churches with video teaching
  • Churches modeled after the concept of using church plants to evangelize

Now remember, with a couple of exceptions above, this has nothing to do with doctrine or teaching. You could map this on to a variety of denominations and many of the models would fit.

What’s your reaction to this?

Mine is, “Wow!” God us using many people in many different ways to accomplish his Kingdom Purposes. Yes, some of these have emerged more driven by the culture than by anything the First Century Church knew and some of these styles may be unknown a generation from now. Some are more likely to lead people into a deeper walk with God, and some are more entry-level; their converts will eventually feel the need to settle in another congregation.

But instead of bemoaning the particular styles you personally don’t care for, I think we need to celebrate what God is doing around the world.  There are a few styles listed there that I know will cause eye rolls, but I’ve been to some of these and have found a depth of devotion and Bible knowledge beyond the stereotypes.

If the gospel is presented clearly and is unobstructed by distractions, people will come to Christ through all types of churches, and those already in the fold will find avenues for greater growth and discipleship.


This is from an undated blog post by Josh Hunt titled What Do All Growing Churches Have in Common:

So, here are six ways to grow a church:

  • Balance the purposes–Rick Warren

  • Emphasize evangelism–Bill Hybels

  • Emphasize worship–Jack Hayford

  • Emphasize service–Steve Sjogren

  • Emphasize discipleship–John MacArthur

  • Emphasize fellowship–Josh Hunt