Like a thumbprint, we are distinct individuals, unlike any other that’s ever been made. Every human being is unique. God created us “in his image,” yet different than one another. Uniqueness is a distinct part of God’s handiwork. From the cosmos to the dirt in your backyard, from ancient relics to raindrops, no wave in the ocean or cloud in the sky is alike. Each element of God’s creation is distinctive, like no other. God’s extraordinary creation is filled with originality… and so are his children.
Every person is a fresh version of God’s creativity. Who we are is tied both to his nature and nurture. Each one of us is an accumulation of genetics, environments, and conditions. Beyond that, we are all infused with diverse cultural experiences. This impacts how we interpret what we see, taste, and hear. Our culture is explicitly learned and consists of beliefs, traditions, and values.
Then there is internal part, which involves unconscious beliefs, thought patterns, values, and myths that affect everything we do and see. It is implicitly learned and is very hard to change. This is why we make distinctions in America between northerners and southerners, and distinctions globally between Easterners and Westerners. Every small pocket of our world, nation, state, county, neighborhood, and household is different. Because of that, no one person is a photocopy. This is evidence that Jesus really enjoys making all things new.
Why would we expect him to act differently with his Church? Well, we shouldn’t.
Every church is part of the Body of Christ. Every church also has a distinct purpose for which God desires to use it in the world. Some churches vigorously endeavor to reach into the city and neighborhoods where they are located, others focus on reaching around the world and partnering with congregations in other countries, others focus on evangelism, and yet others on discipleship. Some churches focus on families, others on college students, and others on the elderly. Some churches reach out to bikers and yet others to cowboys. Many churches have aspects of all of these elements, but they usually do a couple really well and that’s okay.
I am urging my congregation to view itself as a one-of-a-kind creation. As I’ve said, every church is distinct from every other. Each congregation preaches the sermon and plays the music a bit differently. And even if it plays the same song as the congregation down the street, the music is still unique because the musicians are not the same. Smart conductors discover the sound within their band and exploit it. Prudent church leaders do the same.
I want my congregation to steer away from the latest trends in ministry and move toward its inherent strengths. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy church. However, as a leader if you are ready to get your hands dirty and seek the uniqueness of God’s presence at your church, then seek God’s help in discovering the heart of your congregation. Gather with your leaders, have regular times of prayer, get out a pen and pad, and begin to dream together. Discover the heart of God for the unique body of believers that you’re called to share your life with. Then sit back and watch what God does.
(Sources: “Church Unique” by Will Mancini; “The Wolf Shall Dwell With The Lamb” by Eric H.F. Law)