Aug 21, 2010

If the Apostle Paul Were to Come to Our Church, Would He Know It Was Church?

As I sit at my desk going over the sermon for tomorrow, a thought crossed my mind.

I know. That can be scary sometimes.

But here's what I am wondering. If the Apostle Paul, Timothy, or any of the first century Christians were to come to church tomorrow, would they recognize what we were doing in church as church? Would they know that what we were up to was a worship service?

What would let them know that? Our hymns? Our contemporary praise music? The band? The powerpoint? The liturgy? I think these things would clue them into us being Christian, but I don't think they in and of themselves would let the first century Christians know that what we were doing was worship.

Whether you worship in a church with the latest fog machines and lights, or a quiet little church in the country, or a church out in the bush in Uganda worshiping under a tree, what makes church, church? What makes what we do on Sunday mornings worship?

The obvious answer is Jesus Christ. It's Jesus Christ who makes what Christ-followers do on Sunday mornings worship. It's the church gathered proclaiming, worshiping, adoring, praising, listening, obeying, following, Jesus Christ.

Now then, here's another question: if what ultimately matters about worship on Sundays is Jesus Christ, why do we repeatedly do the same things over and over as if that was the only way to worship Jesus?

Shouldn't we be asking first, how can we best help our people and our neighbors experience the risen Christ? And then once we've answered that question and discerned it's perhaps through pianos and organs, or through the sermon, or the liturgy, or whatever else we then go ahead and do that.

But if we discern that perhaps, it's through living out the love of Christ, shouldn't the church consider reading God's word and then asking God how he would want us to put that into practice, and then (I know this is crazy - but I like it) actually going out in groups to do what the Bible said for us to do so that we can experience the presence of the risen Christ among us and live that out in the communities we find ourselves in?

Or perhaps, instead of listening to a 30 minute exposition by a so called expert, the best way to experience Jesus is for people to gather in smaller intimate groups and read the word and share with one another how they can best live out what God is teaching and then covenant with one another to do what Christ asks us to do that week.

Or, we draw, paint, dance, etc.

I think there are a bazillion different things we could do to help our people experience the glory of the risen Christ. And I find it somewhat limiting that we insist on worshiping God in the same exact way we've always worshiped week after week. As if our way of worshiping Christ is the only way of worshiping Christ.

Oh the possibilities.......

1 comment:

teacher_deb said...

Ues the possibilities.....I think about things like..what if one Sunday instead of flowers in the Niche there was food for the foodbank instead. Spend the same amount of money on dead flowerson food to give to hungry much more would that glorify God?..Ah the possiblities...