We know that churches are gauge under the critical themes of the bible ranging from the deity of Christ, infallibility of the word, the trinity, humanity need for savior due to the fall, justification and Christ as savior/redeemer to name a few—simply put the “essentials” of the faith. Yet I believe churches have distinct personalities that are influenced by denomination, culture, education, training and life experiences. These factors influence and inform identities of individual congregations whether one is willing to admit it or not. A congregation’s heartbeat for certain social and political issues is influence by these factors. Perception and application of the gospel is influence by them. Amazingly congregations’ heartbeat on how they relate to their own and those they perceive to be different from them is influenced by these elements. Many looking for a home church often take such factors into account in addition to gauging the essential elements of the faith. This diversity is a great gift principally when there is an open awareness and acknowledgement by the individual church. Lastly it is even a greater gift when it is regularly and intently placed under the microscope of the gospel for ongoing analysis by Jesus Christ; the chief potter.
An oblivious approach to these elements and their potential impact on a church personality and administration strengthens the ill conviction that they do not need to be regularly submitted under the microscope of the gospel. The Apostle Paul dedicated prayers, multiple warnings and letters to churches in the bible because he believed local churches to be susceptible to falling into a state of obliviousness as it pertains to some of these elements. Paul responded and reminded churches of their dire need to be regularly held under the microscope of the gospel every opportunity he had. Whether it was philosophy in Rome/Colossae or cleansing practices and circumcision in Corinth, Paul challenged churches to maintain the GOSPEL above all life experiences, training, culture and denominations; and to allow the Gospel to be the principal zoom through which they regularly held themselves. There is often a misconception that the earlier churches had it all together. This is inaccurate when we fare it to scripture and consider all of Paul’s letters and the other apostles in the New Testament. James wrote to a church that was discriminating against the poor and favoring the rich while claiming to have faith (James 2). So you see even the churches then needed to be regularly held under the microscope.