Unity, diversity and “doing church”

We have been exploring Worshipping Trinity: Coming Back to the Heart of Worship, by Robin Parry, and last time we highlighted quotes in which the author describes our spirituality being shaped in community—especially in the dynamic of congregational worship. Below are more quotes about ‘doing church’ as the ‘living echo’ of the communion of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

“In our lives together we are placed ‘in Christ’ by the Spirit and so relate to God the Father ‘in’ the Son, by the Spirit. We relate to Christ as the head of the body and we know the Spirit’s indwelling, empowering and gifting. Being church is about as Trinitarian as you can get!” (p. 56)

“Many contemporary theologians see the community of the Trinity as a model for God’s community of the church. In God one finds mutual love between persons-in-relationship who recognize the equality and also value the differences of the ‘others’. Although human relationships can never reach the unity of being one finds in God, they can be a dim analogy..... [and] Colin Gunton writes [on p. 98, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, 2003, T&T Clark] that God’s plan was ‘through the work of Christ and the Spirit to create, in time and space, a living echo of the communion God is in eternity’.” (p. 56)

“Churches should seek relational unity but not uniformity. The Trinity provides a model of diversity-in-loving-communion which the church must seek to image, albeit in a dim way, in the world….The Trinitarian model of the church, significantly, leaves room for much flexibility in how we organize our communities – for there is no single right way of ‘doing church’. However, it does provide some limits to legitimate expression of Christian community.” [For example the institutions, rituals, and administrative practices should not foster elitism, discrimination or competition] (p. 57)

“The Spirit generates fellowship, unity and community between Christian and Christian as well as between Christians and Christ when we worship. He does not make us all the same but enables us to love and embrace each other in all our diversity (I Cor. 12). If our communal worship is not like this – if it excludes people from participating or simply draws people as individuals towards God but not towards each other – then we need to start asking hard questions about whether it is as Spirit-ed as we may like to imagine.” (pp. 99-100)

How does the worship life of your congregation seek to draw people toward each other rather than simply drawing people as individuals toward God?


Anonymous said…
Mike Hale, thank you so much for posting this, God has used you to encourage and uplift me, and I am sure others. Because I believe what you have written with all my heart, I have stepped in (privatley) when I have seen other's being damaged by those practicing a non-relational style of leadership. As a result I have been vilified, ostracised,and discriminated against, and if it weren't for the sure knowledge I have, that God requires us to be in good relationship with him and because of that, all others, I would have given up. He does not require this for His sake but for ours, then we can access fully the glory that He has prepared for us, of all the things we may try and prepare in advance to our leaving this life, RELATIONSHIP is the only thing we can take with us.
Laura Hayden said…
I'm still processing the messages from this months blog. It's helping me see my church different.

One of my favorites is a during the song "I Love you with the Love of the Lord." the congregation is invited to hug, shake and pat. :) Hug someone, shake a hand or give a pat on the back. After this song it seems our worship is more heart felt.
Mike Hale said…
Thanks Laura. Sounds joyous! Seems like a wonderful way to draw people together and to what God has for them individually and as community. Thanks again for sharing a glimpse with us.