What’s Church like?

This is one of the most basic posts that you will read but one that’s extremely helpful in your decisions on Church. Whether you are a new Christian who is looking for a home church or a seasoned Christian who is looking for a change or new perspective, this article will help with your research on which Church is similar to what you are looking for and the things you have been exposed to.

We all know there are many denominations and sub-cultures in Christianity. I have often asked why there are so many when there is only one God. My understanding is that, since the Old Testament, there have been many writers who have seen, experienced and interpreted God in different ways. Each from their own understanding of what the triune God reveals to them. Thus, the realization of these concepts can be interpreted in multiple ways, creating different ways in manifestation of the same God. I believe, the underlying factor to all these denominations is that, the Christian God (Yahweh, Jesus and Holy Spirit) is a God of love and wants to have a personal relationship with ALL people.

I don’t want to get into too much detail as that topic needs a series of Random Thoughts episodes and I might not be the expert here, but what I can write about is what really happens in different places of worship by those who practice the Christian faith. 

Disclaimer: I’ve not been to every church from each denomination, but I will write about the ones that have been easily accessible and I have been to.

Pentecostal Churches

These churches are a gathering of people from an evangelistic and charismatic background. Started primarily from Azusa street movement in the 1900s with the Acts 2 preachings from the Bible, this kind of church believes in the Holy Spirit and the gifts thereof. So they are all about experiences and faith so they manifest this by clapping of hands, prophesying, speaking in tongues, and other practices that show the physical intake of the Holy Spirit. Now, this denomination is probably the most broadest classification but just know that, when you go to a pentecostal church, they will be very outspoken and show their experience of encountering Christ. People might think it is weird when they see the congregation at this church but these churches believe that their place of worship must be a place where they pour out their problems, cry and receive the tangible presence of God free of judgement. If you are planning to go to a pentecostal church, prepare to see things out of the ordinary, be non-judgmental and understand the Holy Spirit in all His majesty. 

Assemblies of God

Now that we’ve talked about pentecostal churches, you will get a better understanding of the Assemblies of God. The AG (Assemblies of God) church are a collective group. They are a fellowship of over 60 million churches around the world who come from the protestant background. These churches preach specific doctrines, theologies and talk about fundamentals of faith but are different pertaining to region, language, affiliation and experience. So not all AG churches are the same in setup and preaching but their underlying belief is in the triune God, to pray for leaders and their nation. They are community oriented and have much influence in social spheres. Just like any pentecostal church, AG churches are vibrant, promote personal sacrifice, fasting and prayer. They reach out to the hurting in the community and provide for them according to the particular church’s vision.

Non-denominational

A Non-denominational church, in my understanding does not practice a certain tradition and is not part of a certain group. They come from the protestant faith believing in the father, son and Holy Spirit but have certain order to service. In my opinion, the service is very similar to an AG church, meaning that there’s free worship, interactive sermon and more interaction during the sermon. 

I have visited quiet a few Black/African-American non-denominational churches and the energy there is much different from the ones I have been to. They are loud, very happy and highly vocal on their praise for God. The choirs at these churches are typically flawless in their singing and ‘sang’ their heart out like anyone should. The music is on point and that is their primary way to conducting a service. So if you visit an African-American church, get ready to be on your feet and interact with the speaker at all times.

CSI (Church of South India)

This is the background I come from. Very traditional, has a specific order of service, narrates the creed, has specific rules for baptism and value rituals such as the harvest festival. They might be the closest to an orthodox church found in other regions. Certain CSI churches are relaxed compared to others but these churches belong to a diocese which means one Bishop has leadership over all churches in the province. Same with CNI (Church of North India). Congregants here come from a conservative background, raised in the Church and typically know the recitals by heart. So if you wish to visit one of these churches, get yourself one of those program sheets, a song book and a Bible so you don’t get lost. The churches are beautiful as they pay attention to the architecture but if you want to take pictures, make sure they don’t have restrictions. Put your phone on silent, coz we don’t want anyone staring at you. 

Baptist/ Black Baptist

Baptists believe in the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus. They believe that you get to heaven by baptism and communion of Christ. My understanding is that they have a few kinds of baptists and come from separatist, calvinist or purist-seperatist movement. I went to a baptist college and also attended a baptist church for a brief period in my life. Very sweet people. They were mostly intellectuals who focus on evangelism and mission work. The church I went to was quieter than most services by pentecostal, non-denominational or CSI churches. They give you the time to listen and process the word given by the preacher/speaker. The baptist church I went to was community oriented and definitely refreshing to the mind, every single week. So what to expect out of a baptist church- raw, real, unfiltered praise to God with preachings straight out of the scriptures that are meant for thought and reform, either within self or community. Also, if you are into architecture, you can search for a baptist church that has detailed interior. They’re not very difficult to find.

Catholic Church

Ok, this one was way out of the ordinary for me. I was astounded by the architecture. Here’s the one I went to. 

Interior: Catholic Church

I don’t have to give an introduction to the Catholic background as I think it’s well known around the world and practiced so differently around the world. The one I went to was a washing of feet service. Very pious, honoring the priest and the service itself was catered with many rituals which I could not keep up with and honestly, didn’t know the background to. I must say that they value the body and the blood of Christ. The way they prepared them was very different than what I’m used to and quite frankly, gave me a new perspective to the value of God’s body and blood. They were reverent to the communion and the process it is made and shared with the people. I must say that I strongly felt the presence of Christ. A calm, strong, focused presence that cleared my mind of all confusion. One, I didn’t expect to feel that strong presence but two, because I couldn’t keep up with the rituals they were performing, I thought I’d be too distracted to focus on why we go to service in the first place. Their mass was really beautiful, calming and the newness in perspective made me want to honor and pursue God in a different way. Worth checking out!

Reform Synagogue

My recent find is a synagogue from the Jewish faith. We know that Christianity is based on Judaic principles and, most teachings and stories are from the Torah which Jews learn from. Just like Christians, Jews also have different sects, so there were different kinds of synagogues to chose from.

Interior: Reform Synagogue

The one I went to was a Jewish reform based church, which means they teach the Torah with Hebrew words, meanings and symbols; and is more like a Bible study than church. They explain the religious days, traditions, their core beliefs and prayers performed by their ancestors in Israel. Their goal is to edify the mind but at the same time focus on family relationships. They gave much importance to children and taught them to celebrate in their worship to Yahweh. There was a lot of kissing and hugging that was brotherly and seen in the Old Testament. If you need a deeper understanding of faith and want a renewal of the mind, this is the place to be. I truly enjoyed it and learned so much about my belief system.

13 Replies to “What’s Church like?”

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  2. Hi Sharon, In today’s blogosphere, it is very rare to come across such consistent quality of prose and sound research. I appreciate the time, dedication, and thought you invests into each piece. The breadth of topics about which you write is not only impressive -as you are a person who can absorb all kind of information and translate it to the masses in friendly language- but is a testament to your writing talent. I have always admired the beauty, creativity, and careful attention that you bring to your writing and projects. Your ability to create a nurturing and love-filled environment with your words is spellbinding, and it is no wonder that you have been able to use them to cultivate an online orbit so profoundly supportive for those on the journey to love themselves.

    1. So kind of you! Writing for me, is cathartic. It frees my mind and reminds me of my mission to help people find beauty and love in the smallest things. Thanks for your comment ❤️

      1. Sharon, I just can’t thank God enough for your existence. And i feel I am indebted to the almighty everytime I get to see you & your extraordinary talents. Always there to make you smile & happy. To me happinesses means only you.

  3. Honestly , I Feel Christianity practised today is far deviated and influenced by the “WORLD”rather that how our Jesus practised and preached and how YHWH wants.

    Our God is Selfish God. He will not share his glory and he will not accept adjustments.
    In most of denominations there is some or other deviations which is disrespectful to God.
    Praying to Mary, Wearing indecent dresses, GODMAN worshipping, to name a few.
    For god its 0 or 1. Rev 3:16 , “So because you are lukewarm— neither hot nor cold— I am about to vomit you out of My mouth! “.
    I wonder how you could have felt God’s presence in a place where Mary is Worshipped. When commandments prohibits and Rev 3:16 conveys, God wont be there..
    You were uncomfortable, because you clearly had known the truth. Why do we have to adjust ourselves to be there?

    The other group is even worse. “Charismatic” or whatever along those lines.. They look for MAGICS from God.. All of Bible Miracles had a NEED for it. You name it, God did them for a PURPOSE. The other day I saw a African “Preacher”, manifesting couple of 100Rs ( Not of that much value) in a wallet belonging to a seemingly wealthy person.
    Where is the NEED? is God a magician.. And if you arguing that he is doing it show GOD’s glory 1. He is doing this in a church where everyone knows Who god is. 2. He is manifesting a 100rs note, that has serial number which should be valid.If this note already exited and god just did teleport . is God a thief? If this note has a serial number with which an valid note is already present , is God a fraud ? If this serial number had not existed and invalid then can god make Counterfeit currency?
    Our God cannot do EVERYTHING. He cannot Lie, he cannot forsake. he cannot steal, he cannot do fraud, he cannot counterfeit.

    Wanna hear worse? Christ was tor tortured in Hell , a renowned “charismatic” preacher said. When Jesus Clearly said “”Father, into your hands I commit my spirit…it is finished.””. So , our Father is Satan in Hell?
    Of course I should not generalise , but unfortunately the majority is like this. and its heart throbbing.
    In my opinion , If you Strictly follow whats in Bible, You should not have denominations.
    Bible is not puzzle to deduce , permutate and come up with new things that will inturn negate bible. Instead of building up on Bible , I thing we should go to the fundamentals of it.

    “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4).
    How many preacher have interpreted “valley of shadow of death” in how many ways ? they say it “hardships, satan, disease” etc etc.
    The fundamental is simple. “valley of shadow of death” is a cursed valley in Jerusalem which people used to fear to go through..
    Without understanding fundamentals and digging deep, we are deducing and building on top. I think Learning Hebrew might help better.

    Summary is
    1. There should be no denominations if Bible fundamentals is strictly followed.
    2. Go to roots instead of building up
    3. We are the temple of GOD. Seek God in Ourselves than seeking in church.
    4. This is End times and Bible clearly warns about Fake preachers and False churches. We should not be lousy about it.

    Whenever I say this to anyone . They discourage me. Warn me that I should not speak against servants of God or Say that I can understand intricacies of Things with know explanation when questioned. But, I hope this makes sense to some here.

    PS : Tamil Bible says “Marana Irulin Pallathakku” in my humble opinion is incorrect. it should have been “Marana Nilalin Pallathakku” .

    1. Hi Gabriel,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      What you’ve written is your opinion and seems like it’s coming from your personal experience of legalism in the Christian religion. I get it. I was there once, and it’s tiring to live up to those rules. I’m happy to say that I’m not in that place anymore. I have experienced the freedom to worship God wherever I am, without the boundaries that we assume the Bible places on us, or what our ancestors have done for the sake of tradition. That said, I’m not even gonna attempt proving my experience of God in new and unknown places. I love being in this place of taking God with me even to the grocery store and that’s where I’m gonna continue being. I can only encourage you to step out in faith and feel God in the unusual, casual and serene, because IT’S THE BEST THING EVER. The decision and the choice to judge people, age old practices, defend legalism and confine yourself to a borderline is left to you.

      God speed!

  4. Hey Sharon, nice blog it was a mixture of multiple things regarding career confusion, decision making, facing the world, inner realizations and much more over with faith and science. You have Portrayed in a specific manner but detailing the same will not confuse people and would be much more helpful.

    The blog content which I liked the most was about faith and the context and thinking what we believe, and not to blindly do things are good ? but it was incomplete.
    But with regard to career want to tell my opinion it is the process of man to undergo it in order to self identity of what u r n what u have, what is your strength which leads to a perfect journey but in the end makes us understand perfection is not real but the process of life lies the beauty of individual self recognition of own soul??

  5. The blind lead the blind cause they walk by sight and not faith, by sight they find and judge the mistake of others and fail to see the heart that the Lord sees and in righteousness decide their fathers and brothers are perfect and forget the truth that none was worthy who was called.

  6. Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all people you actually know what you are speaking about! Bookmarked. Kindly also visit my web site =). We may have a hyperlink trade arrangement among us!

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