Styles & Expectations – Weekend WOW

Each weekend, I explore a little more of the WOW – ‘Woke on the Wonder’ of worship. This week it is a little on the different personalities of different churches.

About 17 years ago, Gene Mims wrote a little book entitled The Seven Churches NOT In the Book of Revelation. While limited in its scope, and not dealing with every aspect of a pastor’s and a church’s role in leadership, evangelism, making disciples, and more … it is a whimsical and pointed look at the different personalities, or seven different cultures, a modern evangelical church might take. I believe the concept might be more of seven different personalities of church members – for I have found all of these at the churches I have served. But however one views these seven categories, it does explain how one type of pastor may find himself frustrated if he is trying to lead a particular type of congregation with another type of pastoral style – while overlooking our God who can bridge those gaps.

The seven categories are …

1.        The University Church—where the emphasis is on teaching, learning, and doctrine. (The pastor operates as a professor)

2.        The Arena Church—worship-centered, where performance and entertainment are key. (The pastor is a performer)

3.        The Corporate Church—large, complex, intricate, and a model of efficiency. (The pastor is the CEO)

4.        The Machine Church—program-oriented, focused on building, missions, and task management. (The pastor operates as a manager)

5.        The Family Chapel Church—based on family ties, where personal relationships come first. (The pastor is a chaplain)

6.        The Legacy Church—rich in tradition, often focused on a great event or personality of the past. (The pastor is a curator)

7.        The Community Center Church—committed to community service and local issues. (The pastor is a prophet to current issues)

Now, overall, these categories are a great challenge for pastors and church goers to leave the ‘one type fits all’ mentality at the door. We will find different styles all around the country and all through our pews (or chairs, or theater seats, or bean bag cushions – though haven’t seen that last one personally).

The pastor finds himself filling many of these roles and often at the same time. Church members will expect certain roles from the pastor as well. And when reality doesn’t meet expectations … messiness occurs. But I’m okay with that. I believe it is in the messiness we learn some of the greatest truths of God’s grace and patience. They key is love.

Christ prayed for unity in the church (John 17) not uniformity. It is in our love for each other – worked out with grace and mercy – that the image of the Lord is seen by those that are watching. And people are watching. The Word tells us it is our love for one another – not our style, not our uniformity, not our preaching, not our numbers, or whatever – that lets people know we are His disciples.

And I close with one last thought. If a pastor (me for example) is weak in one or more areas, that actually is okay. For the humble pastor will realize that is where we really need His strength. In our weakness, He is strong. And in our reliance on a Him, we find true freedom to serve and lead.

No matter your personality, the personality of the one sitting next to you in church, the personality of the pastor, may we all keep our eyes on Him, His commission given us (make disciples), His grace, and His glory (not ours). And may we walk together, sharing the good news of hope, forgiveness, and love.

So, worship this weekend, or any weekend, and be thankful God loves all type of people – even my type, even your type. And like puzzle pieces forming the big picture – we can worship side by side showing the world He loves them too!


Note: this is not a review of Mim’s book, just a launching pad to think about where one is serving and the church they call ‘home’.

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