Conformity in the Church
Actually we are to conform to the holy life described in the Scripture. Sadly this has been perverted in some church environments resulting in unbearable legalism. Wny? In Scripture, the church is called a “body”, comprised of different and distinct parts each serving a specific function ultimately serving for the benefit of the whole. But too many times the quest for conformity results in a curse of uniformity. Church leaders end up squelching personality (or individuality) for what they say is the benefit of the whole. This is why we see such conflict over “style” in churches. Leaders choose a style that they believe appeals to the broadest audience (the whole) and then lock into that pattern for eternity. Or, the people are so locked into a style they refuse to adjust for the changes in the seasons.
A personal example. I was speaking to a now-former pastor about starting a Saturday night service targeted to a different demographic, i.e. a different style. The response was that we could end up with a church-within-a-church. My response was “so?” Well, that would be bad. Really? The commandment was to reach the lost and disciple the convert, not build a homogeneous uniform church environment. Sure one must choose a style or methodology by which to accomplish the goal of reaching and discipling but the church must reflect the nature and character of the people within it. It must not dictate it. In truth the church is not the gathering of people within a building each Sunday but the people themselves. It should look like the people.
I believe that we get too focused on “Christianity” as defined by the life (activity, involvement) of the church. Instead the church should facilitate a life walked out daily by each individual and what it means to draw near to God, to have a personal relationship with Christ, and move by the power of the Spirit, and to impact the lives of people we encounter.