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Two Evangelical Churches on Christmas Eve (2016): As Different as Night and Day

Two Evangelical Churches on Christmas Eve (2016): As Different as Night and Day December 25, 2016

Two Evangelical Churches on Christmas Eve (2016): As Different as Night and Day

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I love diversity. People in America tend to lump all evangelicals together–as if we all think the same, live the same, look the same and worship the same. While we share some beliefs in common (e.g., Jesus Christ is the sole Savior and Lord of the world), we are as different as night and day in other respects.

This Christmas Eve I was privileged to attend two evangelical Christmas Eve services.

One was at a relatively small, “contemplative,” urban church not far from a major American city’s downtown. Most of the congregants were white, but there was a sprinkling of black, Hispanic and Asian people. The worship style was contemporary but at the same time contemplative–fairly quiet, the sanctuary lit by candles, the sermon thoughtful and reflective and by a seminary trained woman. Most of the people (about 100 in all) appeared to be professionals of different kinds.

The second one was at a suburban, mostly African-American, Pentecostal mega-church. There were at least two thousand people attending. The service began with an “Apollo Style” “Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest.” High energy, enthusiastic, very loud, upbeat, contemporary worship. The pastor was very like Steve Harvey on steroids. Cameras everywhere; everything on big screen televisions. High tech to the max–except the deacons wandering the aisles with big boxes of tissues. Everyone extremely friendly and welcoming. Did I say loud? Very evangelical gospel message with an invitation to repent and accept Jesus Christ as Savior. Major emphasis on diversity of generations, classes, races, etc. (as good). Service ended with “Holy Eucharist” without restrictions.

I know both of these churches quite well. Both are truly, authentically evangelical. Neither one is political in the partisan sense; both emphasize social justice for the oppressed. The media ignores both because they don’t fit their preconceived paradigm of what “evangelical” looks like.

I love diversity….

 

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