This past weekend I did a congregation visit. While I was parking in the church lot, I received a bunch of unfriendly stares. As I walked in I could hear a group behind me say “who is that?” It made me begin to understand the categories that McGuire outlined early on in our readings. It was interesting to contrast, right away, the experience I had at the denominational organization vs the sectarian one. But it also gave me an interesting view of the free market of religion in America. This group for example was relatively small, it is truly interesting to think about the uniqueness of a few people with similar beliefs coming together and starting a church. Here, a bunch of similarly stand-offish type of people all found each other. This is something that people in Europe wouldn’t necessarily do. This could explain the diversity of Christian religion in America that isn’t seen in European countries.
Additionally, having grown up Catholic, these congregation visits have proven to be incredibly enlightening. The umbrella term of Christianity was something that I have always been comfortable with as a catch all for all denominations as well as Catholicism. However, it seems nearly impossible to see any commonality between the two during my past congregation visits. I’m glad to have been able to understand that distinction. However, it’s important to note that the distinction is an environment/culture difference while the theology of values might be the same they aren’t something that can be observed during a congregation visit alone.