This is from a comment I made on the internetmonk blog. The more I typed it the more I wanted to talk about some of these issues here.
It seems to me there is a real paradigm issue when it comes to churches that operate either out of fear or out of grace. Churches that operate out of fear tend to micromanage (just to make sure nothing is out of place!). They tend to be harsh and highly judgmental. They tend to operate from a checkbox mentality. This often turns into Pharisaicalism – we did this, this, and this…so we are alright with God this week. This reminds me of Philip’s recent comment on “God and…Or God alone?” in wondering if some people think that if our worship is perfect we can force God into doing things the way we think they should be done.
Other churches operate from a grace perspective. These churches tend to leave more room for people to make mistakes = members have more room to grow. They tend to do more sheperding and are more concerned with Christian identity and transformation rather than checkboxes.
While I think we do need a proper fear and respect of the Lord I also think that of the churches I have been around, the healthiest ones were the ones that operated out of grace and not out of fear (1 John 4:18).