I think we have church backwards (hcruhc)! As I read accounts of the church in Acts, it seems to indicate that the church was more about what happened outside of their formal assembly (Acts 2:46-47). Sure, they were devoted to the apostles’ teaching (2:42), but the teaching was the catalyst for what happened the rest of the time.
Anymore, “church” has become more about what happens on Sunday. Entire ministry empires and denominations have been built around programs that happen in buildings on Sundays and Wednesdays. All this while our world slips deeper and deeper into darkness because the church has stopped being the church during the week. This is especially true in America where we have merged the Gospel and the American Dream into a syncretistic mess! Now, what we preach is that what God is really concerned about is that we raise a healthy, happy middle-class family in a safe neighborhood while climbing our career ladder and showing up on Sunday to sit for an hour and throwing a few dollars in the collection plate before we leave.
What I’m about to say might shock some of you. I wish we could stop holding worship services–not forever, just for a little while. Before you throw Hebrews 10:25 at me (“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing…”), let me say that it’s not because what we do on Sundays and Wednesdays in not valid, because it is valid. However, we have placed such a high value on meeting together that we have lost the original purpose for meeting together!
A few nights ago, we were with a group of friends from church playing “Mafia” (it’s a really fun large-group game). It was so much fun! People were laughing until the tears flowed! And, of course, there was food. This is what I envision when I read Acts 2:42, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
My question to you is this: Do you think God is more pleased with us sitting in another worship service or when we are intentionally building relationships with those who don’t yet know Jesus? Again, I don’t mean to diminish what happens in a worship service. But imagine if we spent just 1 or 2 nights a week building an atmosphere of unconditional community with someone who doesn’t know Jesus. What if instead of getting together to play “Mafia” (or some other goofy games) with just our church friends, we invited an unchurched neighbor or co-worker to join us? What if instead of going to the movies with the guys from church, we invited the guy next door to go with us? Too often, we throw out a quick invitation to church without inviting the person into community first. Wouldn’t it be cool if when they actually came to church they already knew a dozen or so people because they played games or went to a movie first?
People everywhere are searching for community. When we invite people into our community unconditionally, they begin to sense the Kingdom of God before they even know what it is and they will want more. They will begin to invite themselves deeper and deeper into community. Too often in church circles, “believing” enables “belonging.” What if we flipped that and “belonging” enabled “believing”?
Now back to the subject of our worship services. If we actually lived the rest of our week intentionally investing in the lives of unchurched and non-believing people and began to see God’s activity in that way, when we gathered to worship on Sundays, our worship services would be electric! It doesn’t matter what style of music or what the volume level, we would not be able to stop people from worshiping because they’ve seen God use them in the lives of people! Instead, we have people who are more concerned about their preferences in worship style and pet church programs!
I doubt we’ll cancel worship services anytime soon. So, how do we as Christians recapture our mission as Christ’s ambassadors throughout the week? Post a comment or idea. I’d love to hear what you think!