“Sitting around the living room having coffee and cold drinks with Christian friends, the conversation turned to a favorite topic: church bashing. Almost all criticism of church – “All I do is look at the back of other people’s heads”; “The music is out of date”; “The preaching is boring”; The pastors are selfish and manipulative”; “The staff is clueless or hypocritical” – assume that church means what happens on Sunday morning. Think about it: when have you ever heard criticisms of how the dispersed church practices its faith – expect when there is a major moral scandal of a famous Christian? It seems to me that 98 percent of church criticism has to do with one hour of the weekend.
“What if we could shift from seeing church as doing our weekend duty to seeing the historic elements of church as spiritual practices – as a springboard for a way, an order, a practice or a structure for spiritual life?”
So begins the introduction for the newest book I’m reading, “Giving Church Another Chance: Finding New Meaning in Spiritual Practices” by Todd Hunter.
Wow, such a powerful statement – that that should remind us that the hour or two when folks get together on Sunday morning is NOT the end all. Todd describes it this way in chapter one,
“Most every human activity has meetings associated with it. Corporate marketing teams meets, sports team meet, surgical teams meet, teachers meet – but none of them confuse the meetings with the real task. Meetings exist to facilitate the actual work.
“…Like most human endeavors, the church has meetings associated with it. Unfortunately, while most people do not confuse meeting with their work (the game or show), churchgoers often do.”
We need to “rethink the purpose of the meetings” – we need to change the reason we meet together as a corporate body. Instead of coming together to GET something OUT of the meetings, I believe we should come together for two main purposes:
1) Corporate worship
There is something powerful and life changing when a bunch of Jesus followers get together and praise the Lord. It is not a concert or a performance – it is a time in which our innermost being is transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. This is one of the reasons while I love long worship sets as they allow God to work in each of us.
Worship is NOT a way to call people into the church building, a type of ‘warm-up’ for the main event. Worship IS the main event!!!
2) Safe place to practice Kingdom Living
Sunday services are also a time and place to learn how to practice Kingdom Living. They are times of training, equipping, mentoring and learning the story of God so we can go out into the streets and love people, healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the leapers, proclaiming that the rule and reign of God Almighty is among them today righting the wrongs and setting the captives free.
The ‘meat’ of the Christian life is NOT in the church building or in the pastor’s sermons. The meat, the point, the focus, the end-game of following Jesus is in loving the unlovable, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, crying with those in pain and heartache, rejoicing with those who rejoice…
Bowing our knees to Jesus means following Jesus and doing what He is doing. Nothing more and nothing less.