The web is full of stuff that churches do wrong, and a lot of it is probably right on. What disturbs me more, however, is our collective quickness to point out everyone else's flaws, when we all have them. If I am publicly critical of one of the flaws in the church, it is the church's willingness to divide the body. So, rather than perpetuating division, I want to point out a few things churches do right.
I've taken the top 10 Christian denominations according to a The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life/US Religious Landscape Survey and want to give them each a pat on the back for one thing each does right. Note: I haven't distinguished so finely as between "Evangelical" and "Mainline," or this sub-group and that.
Denomination (% of US population) - The good stuff:
1. Catholics (approx. 24%) - Disclaimer: I was born and raised Catholic, and a large part of my family is still Catholic. Catholics do "reverence" better than any other Christian denomination. I prefer a more contemporary, laid back worship service, but I have a great deal of respect for the reverence Catholics give to the Church buildings, altars, services, and rites. They get that God is holy, and we should approach Him that way.
Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, "Be holy because I (am) holy." 1 Peter 1:14-16 (NAB).
2. Baptists (approx. 13%) - Disclaimer: I was "saved" while a member of a Baptist Church (Beltway Park) a few years ago, and I wouldn't trade my time in that Baptist Church for anything. Baptists do "numbers" better than anybody else right now. They keep the calculators in heaven busy with the newly saved. Baptists get mission work and know how to evangelize.
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
3. Methodists (approx. 6%) - Disclaimer: I graduated from a Methodist university (Southwestern University); the connection was tenuous but important. The Methodists were charismatic before charismatics were cool. The Methodists once did mission work better than anyone else. Now, Methodists bridge gaps better than anyone - gaps between traditional and modern, fundamental and progressive, liturgical and extemporaneous. Methodists get inclusion.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NRSV)
4. Lutherans (approx. 4.6%) - Obviously, Lutherans have historically done "grace" and "reformation" better than most. They do doctrine, confessions and creeds well. We should all have such well articulated beliefs. Lutherans get that you should be able to articulate and defend what you believe.
He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it. Titus 1:9 (NRSV)
5. Non-denominational (approx. 4.5%) - Disclaimer: I currently attend a non-denominational church (Emmanuel Fellowship Church). Non-denominationalists do "worship" better than anyone. They let loose and worship shamelessly. Hands raised, banners waiving, and dancing in the aisles. Every church service is a party. Non-denominationalists get that God is to be worshiped.
Then David danced before the LORD with all his might...
Therefore I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. 2 Samuel 6:14, 21-22 (NKJV)
6. Pentecostals (approx. 3.5%) - Pentecostals do Holy-Spirit religion better than anyone else. They understand that we are spiritual beings first and foremost, and that we should live in a state of communion with the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals get that the gospel has to be presented not only in word but in power.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 (KJV)
7. Presbyterians (approx. 2.7%) - Presbyterians do education well. I would guess that, per capita, Presbyterians are probably the most educated group of believers. Presbyterians get that you don't have to check your intellect at the church door.
The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the minds of fools. Proverbs 15:7 (NRSV)
8. Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (approx. 2.4%) - Christian Churches and Churches of Christ do discipline and perseverance like no one else. I don't think I know a more committed and determined lot. They get that the Christian life is a marathon not a sprint, something many Christians lose sight of.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)
9. Anglicans/Episcopalians (approx. 1.7%) - Anglicans and Episcopalians embrace diversity. This is not true for a lot of the Christian church, and it should be. There is, after all, a common thread which should bind all of us. Anglicans get that the body needs all of its component parts.
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; Revelation 5:9 (AV)
10. Holiness Churches (approx. 1%) - Holiness churches do non-conformity well. They actually try to live what many Christians profess. They get that an encounter with Jesus and the Holy Spirit should be a life-changing encounter.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2 (KJV)
On the whole, it sounds like a body of Christ I want to be a part of. Now, if we could get all of the component parts working in unison.
NOTE: My readers know that I allow and respond to virtually all comments and criticisms, but not on this post. If you leave a comment critical of a Christian denomination, please know it will be deleted. I know charismatics can take things too far, and I know other denominations can be legalistic. I get it. None of us are perfect, and there will be plenty of time and opportunity to discuss the problems later. You are, as always, certainly free to criticize me or my positions, but not the other members of the body. Not this time.