Unity, diversity and “doing church”

This post was contributed by worship leader Mike Hale.

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?