Sunday, July 6, 2014

What Happens "at church"

We "went to church" today.

We (that is, some family members and I) "went to church" in a town not far from where my in laws live in the summer.  We "went to church" and sang songs, heard scripture and a sermon, and shared communion.  And, after a few moments of conversation, we left.

The "church service" we went to was all planned out before we arrived.  Though we sang a bit and though we interacted with a few people, I don't believe it would be honest to say we were active participants in what happened "at church" today.  We didn't affect (nor effect) anything.  Nothing would have been different if we wouldn't have been there--except there would have been 4 fewer people there and another small handful of other "church attenders" who would have missed out on our brief conversations. 

I would say, today, "at church," we were passive participants even though I took a few notes during the sermon, greeted a few people, spoke briefly with the "pastor" about his message, and tried to initiate a bit of conversation about the message with family members after church.

Some might call that "active."  I would not.  And I don't believe that's what God would desire to happen when people get together for this precious "once a week" time of being together with a group of people in Jesus' name.  There are hints throughout the New Testament that the Holy Spirit worked actively through a variety of people when the church gathered.  It was not, generally speaking a show that was put on by one or two people or even by a small group. 

As I spoke of this "after church" today, my father in law asked what I would do differently.  I told him that would depend upon the people who get together at any given "church."

One suggestion that someone from Crossroads had come up with was that individuals or families (regularly or occasionally?) could be the planners for particular Sundays.  That could at least have SOME of the church's people be active.  I sent an email to our board of directors a moment ago about that.  Perhaps we'll be able to have some more "active" participation by at least some of our people during the rest of this summer... perhaps as early as two weeks from today.

What would you do to make worship more actively participatory?  Will you pray that God will reveal His plans?  Will you pray with others who are a part of your church about this?  What does God want you to do together during this precious weekly time of gathering?  It's not something that any one person can decide on their own.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe more sharing from the congregation would make it more participatory. People sharing about what God is doing in their lives, what questions they have, what they are wondering about lately. Providing an opportunity for people to go "up front" to share, as well as sharing with the people around them. Bringing "real life" into the church service is a good step to addressing the passivity of the congregation. Until church stops being something we "watch" like a lecture or a concert, it will feel more natural to be passive than active participants. I don't think it's any one thing, it may take entirely changing the expectations for what happens on Sunday mornings. That's not easy to do.