The Lord’s church as we know it is a small place. The degrees of separation between us all are fewer than you might think. I once visited a congregation in a remote place and was surprised to find brethren who knew well brethren that I knew well. This, of course, made me feel at home very quickly—as it should.
Every congregation has its own personality. In my experience I have found most to be warm and inviting. Those that were otherwise were obviously going through rough times. But even then I found that they usually warmed to the joy I brought with me.
An old man asked if I had been to a certain congregation in a far-off land. He proceeded to express frustration about their practice of “Closed Communion.” He said he had been told at the door that only members of the church were invited to participate. He did not believe that a public service was the place to carry out those convictions. I agree that “Closed Communion” is best done behind closed doors.
On one of my travels I was once mistaken for a visiting preacher at a church. They insisted that I must preach for as long as I wanted to; they were serious. I found out later that this was more than gracious given that I had just told them that I was a preacher for a congregation. You see, one of the brothers later sent several Emails explaining why they do not believe in having a ‘located preacher.’
There are many genuinely held convictions among us. Some are kept private, others are discussed out loud, and others that define whole congregations.
As long as these “matters of opinion” are considered such, I will continue to enjoy the love and freedom.
It has been wisely stated:
“In matters of faith there must be unity, in matters of opinion, let there be liberty, but in all things, there should be love.”