Division or Diversification?

So, having visited the first seven churches of my church crawl, maybe now is a good time to take stock.  What have I noticed so far?

Well, the first, and most obvious thing is this: there are a lot of different churches in Barrie.

Ok, not a blindingly original insight.  But it does lead to some interesting questions.  Many of the churches I have visited have been keen to tell me about their history, their ‘distinctives’, and how they are different from other churches.  Sometimes, I’m sure out of genuine concern for my spiritual health, I’ve been warned against attending certain other churches as I continue this journey.

So, why so much variety?  Does Barrie need a United church, a Free Presbyterian one, or a Free Methodist or Catholic or Pentecostal church?

I’m currently reading Brian McLaren’s “A New Kind of Christianity.”   In his chapter on the church, he says this about the plurality of church forms that exist today:

“Some see this as a division to be remedied, but there’s another way to see it: as diversification to be celebrated.  What if the Christian faith is supposed to exist in a variety of forms?”

I think that’s a good question.  What do you think?  Does the church in Barrie benefit from having so many different forms and traditions?  Or is it a sad division that needs to be healed?  Is there ‘one true way’ of doing church, or am I witnessing some of the broad range of valid approaches?

Is this even the right question?   Are there more important issues that go deeper than external appearances and behaviours?  Should I be exploring how the different expressions of church in Barrie challenge or complement one another?

Let me know what you think!  Maybe you attend one of the churches I’ve visited, or will be visiting.  Maybe you can help me understand better the strengths of your particular approach, or maybe you can tell me how I should feel about the wide range of church styles I’ve seen so far.

Looking forward to hearing from you!