Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dependant on Sundays

  • How have you dealt with the over dependance on the Sunday morning service in your context?
  • What alternatives have you used with success (and how)?
  • How do you move people away from Sunday morning attendance as the guage of "true" committment?

  • When did the day of rest become the day of toil?
As I head off to the weekly Sunday morning meeting, I'm confronted again with the overdependance or overimportance put on the Sunday morning "church" service by some people. Don't get me wrong, I think a weekly meeting and time of corporate prayer and worship is important, but why is the Sunday morning service seen as the compulsory, be-all and end-all in Christian gatherings?

I attend at least 3 meetings a week where the major components of the Sunday service are included (with perhaps the exception of communion), yet whenever I, deliberately, throw out the possibility of not attending on an odd Sunday morning, I receive phone calls, comments and the occaisional "remember, we're told not to forsake the fellowship of the saints" comment thrown in for good measure. Come on! I meet and fellowship with Christians all week. I often am working 7 days a week and find that a Sunday spent at home, with a sleepin Sunday morning and a day spent with my family is incredibly beneficial.


Shannon said...

Talked about this issue a few months ago. I compared traditional and foundational. I think sometimes in todays churches we've taken on some traditional things as though they were foundational. In reality, I see a vast difference in the two. Is meeting with God's people for cooperate worship foundational? I have to say yes. Is meeting on "Sunday" foundational, I have to say no. It's traditional. Does this mean my church meets on a day other than Sunday and Wednesday, no. These are the days that work well for us and our community. I think each should look contextually within their own situations and discover when is a good time to meet with others for cooperate worship. I also don't feel this gathering has to take place in a church "building"...this is why my church is going to be meeting in homes, restaurants and other places on Sunday evenings beginning this year. Excellent thoughts Creature.

The Creature said...

I like the idea of 'traditional' and 'foundational'. I think I will use that next time I talk about this.

I also was excited to hear about the changes you are making in the coming year. How did you get to the point where you were able to do this, to make this move? I want to hazard a guess - you are perhaps a youngish congregation, and perhaps a fairly newly established one at that?

I am also keen to hear how you intend to conduct your restuarant meetings, as this is also something I am planning on doing in the new year and would love some ideas.

Shannon said...

[Quote]I want to hazard a guess - you are perhaps a youngish congregation, and perhaps a fairly newly established one at that? [Quote]

Actually the age spread is quite diverse in my church. We do have those in early 20's, mid 20's and early to late 30's with a considerable portion over 40. Our oldest is 80 and he and his wife are gold! We also have a solid group of children and teenagers. Our church is 20 years old but I've been Lead Pastor now for 9 years.

In all honesty, the transition from "Traditional" to "Missional" has only been taking place since February of this year. My church has been a very traditional church in regards to the Pentecostal tradition of the Assemblies of God. However, I'm amazed at how willing my people are to accept the "non-traditional" things I'm discussing and even now doing. It's been quite remarkable. Some of the little things I've changed are my attire on Sundays. For years, since I can remember, I wore a suit and tie to church. Over the summer, I hung my suits up and am now simply wearing a pair of slack and a button down shirt.; sometimes even jeans and a t-shirt. I know for some this is minor. But you must remember we were a VERY traditional church. The older fellow in my church has said he "doesn't like" my new style, but we laugh about it and he accepts it.

The "new" aspect of our church is mostly that we just built a brand new building and have really grown with brand new people. We're still small my many standards but for the area we're in, we're doing well and I believe we'll only continue to grow as we "get out of the box" even more.

Our restaurant meetings are still on the sketch pad but initially, I'm going to establish connection leaders who will host or lead these teams. The will of course have the option where they choose to me whether that is in a house or in a restaurant. I will choose a restaurant as it will give even greater visibility. Every team will focus on the same topic for that week and so we'll all be growing in the same direction though we're meeting at multiple locations. These meetings are in an attempt to foster communities where anyone can come and feel welcome. We're leaving the "come and get it" mentality that has infiltrated much of the church today and "taking Jesus" to them. I'm not sure how this will all look or even work yet in our little corner of the world but I'm not afraid of risk or even failure because I understand that exploration leads to discover and I'm excited about what is ahead of us! When we've nailed down just what this is going to look like, I'll be sure to let you know. :)

Anonymous said...

I must make an input here in regards to tradition vs foundational. Am I correct to say they came together on the Lords day which is a Sunday as scripture tells us the first day of the week. Which makes it foundational, Tradition Tells us that its the only day of the week but as you know you can come together 8 times aweek. So is the Lords day in the gospels a sunday? This truth of day of worship is to answer my 7th day advent. friend who seems to impose this day of rest strongly. Interesting site creature enjoy your break.

Shannon said...


Creature informed me of your comment and I'll be glad to give you an answer, however I just got back in town so I'll respond early next week...:)


The Creature said...

While Shannon is resting, I've had a few days to think about your comment - This is a question I have been confronted with a few times in the last few weeks, mainly because I am starting a Friday night gathering and have made a few comments about this being "church" for some people.

I think there are a couple of aspects to this. First is the practical. Many people work 6 days a week, many people work shifts (particularly around my part of the world) and many people even work on Sundays. While Christians continue to make Sundays the primary focus of our spiritual lives there are some people we are never going to meet or reach or have the opportunity of reaching.

Secondly, on a more theological note, every day is the "Lord's day", yet biblically it's pretty clear that one day should be set aside for rest and for meeting together. In Roman's 14 Paul says the day itself doesn't really matter, while the author of Hebrews (in chapter 10) reinforces that it is necessary for believers to gather regularly. So which day this is done on isn't so important as actually doing it.

I do know it is difficult for some to divorce this from Sundays. This is a bit of a problem I face within my congregation, simply because I know some people will not see our Friday night meeting as meeting the requirements of the Sunday morning service, simply because it isn't on Sunday. I also know that some of those who attend the Friday night thing are simply not going to be able to get along on Sundays.

The trouble with the SDA doctrine isn't so much the insistence on Saturday as the Sabbath, but with some of the extreme eschatology and theology tied up with it. It's my understanding that SDA's believe Sunday worship to be the "mark of the beast". But that is a whole other story.