Here in Worthington, Minnesota, we have 17 churches that I am aware of. That’s 17 churches for, what, 13,000ish people? Not a bad ratio.
By contrast, I grew up in a town of about 3,000, on an island where there were only two church options: the Catholic/Episcopal church (which shared the premises but never the services) and Orcas Island Community Church (OICC) where everyone who wasn’t Catholic or Episcopalian spent their Sunday mornings.
Oh, and there were several cults/theosophical societies/new age communes as well, but I didn’t know much about them…other than whenever the Polarity Institute kids walked into a room, you knew it. They all smelled like garlic.
Having just three church options meant that there were a lot of different faith backgrounds represented in the congregation at OICC. People couldn’t just drive on over to the next town for church…the ocean was in the way! So, if you wanted to go to a Lutheran church, for example, you had to get in the ferry line for the Red Eye on Sunday morning, wait…and wait…then ride the ferry for an hour and twenty minutes, drive to your church of choice…drive back to the ferry line…wait…and wait…get back on the ferry, etc., etc.
Very few people were willing to do this.
SO…they came to OICC.
I LOVE that I grew up non-denominational. Yes, the church was probably more Baptistic than Lutheran in style, but not until I moved off of the island after 9th grade, did I even know what that meant. I remember facing church choices with my parents when we moved to Bend, Oregon. They were debating the merits of the Nazarene Church, the Baptist Church, the Free Church…and I had no idea what they were talking about. We ended up at a church plant that met in the middle school. Yes, it was non-denominational.
I’m not “dissing” denominations – I attend a denominational church now and I’m quite happy there, but I do want to challenge the notion that FOREVER AND EVER I WILL BE A BAPTIST/LUTHERAN/REFORMER/COVENANTER/METHODIST/WHATEVER. Denominations have their place, but what I care more about is whether or not Christ is preached and whether or not the people in the church are being challenged to grow in their relationship with Jesus.
It’s Easter…and that’s what I’m thinking about. Not cute little bunnies and marshmallow peeps. Not the “Baby Jesus” who is safe and easy to reference. But Christ, in all his bloody glory, giving His life for mine.
Thank you, God, for your indescribable gift. (II Corinthians 9:15)