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How the worship service can help us overcome barriers to fellowship

Posted by on Jul 21, 2011 in blog links, unity | 9 comments

How the worship service can help us overcome barriers to fellowship

Jumping off from my post “Why keep the ‘worship service’,” Arthur at “The Voice of One Crying Out in Suburbia” has written a superb article called “Where do we go from here?

To begin with, Arthur decries the “us vs. them” attitude that we often hear concerning organic/simple church and institutional/traditional church. Yes, there are differences, but we are not enemies. We are united in Christ.

Next, Arthur suggest at least one way that those who prefer simple/organic church can overcome barriers of fellowship… by attending worship services!

Here is part of his post:

I hope I am moving past the “angrily shaking my fist at the institutional church” phase. It was cathartic in a way and if I am honest gave me a prideful sense of superiority but it is generally unhelpful in fostering unity in the church and unity is a “first tier doctrine”. That doesn’t mean that I am not going to speak out against the institutionalization of the church or the professionalization of ministry or any of the other topics that I typically write about. What I am going to try very hard to do is to examine these topics in the context of how we can overcome the barriers to fellowship we encounter and how to foster community in the church in the context we have while working in unity toward a more Biblical expression of the church.

Now practically speaking, I don’t think that sitting in a pew among thousands of other people in a mega-church is doing much of value. Getting to know people in a smaller, more intimate church setting (under 150 people perhaps?), that strikes me as helpful. Get to know them and be known by them. Expand your circle and make new friends. Invite people to your home, have get togethers, Bible studies, prayer meetings, go out to dinner, have a picnic, go camping, something, anything, with other Christians especially if those activities can also be used for evangelism. Spend time with them on Sunday morning. There is an old saying, why do people rob banks? Because that is where the money is. Likewise with all of those church buildings we like to decry, that is where you are likely to find the highest concentration of Christians. Give that Sunday morning time up for the unity of the church. If you have a truly organic church, you can meet on Saturday afternoon or Thursday night. Give up that Sunday morning for the sake of Christ and His Church and invite others to share your life.

What do you think? Are you willing to attend worship services in order to get to know some of your brothers and sisters in Christ? Have you done this before?


9 Comments

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  1. 7-21-2011

    Simple Church meets itself in the mirror:

    1. But Sunday morning is a convenient time for US to get together.

    2. We meet on Saturday night so WE can sleep in on Sunday morning.

    3. We’ve never done it that way before.

    4. I’m already too busy.

    In the 60’s, Sonny Bono (of Sonny and Cher for the youngsters) wrote a song, “And the Beat Goes On.” Sonny, well said, we miss you man.

  2. 7-21-2011

    I commented over at Arthur’s blog and said he is spot on.

    However, I have tried this off and on over the last couple of years since I left the building. What I have found when trying to build relationships with others that I used to attend institutional church with are extremely busy doing programs and “church” activities, and is difficult for me to be in those functions because they are geared toward “institutional” stuff.

    I cleared my plate over the last couple of years, and it has been difficult to find time to build relationships when no one can get together, and when we do, it is all surface stuff and no heart issue. You need to meet consistently and constantly to build a trusting relationship, but if I am meeting with others just every once in awhile because they have an hour for coffee I will do it, but I find it really difficult.

    I am definitely not saying to stop trying. It just gets a bit frustrating once in a while.

    Arthur’s thinking is on the right track … so we should all keep chugging along.

    This is a great subject and should be talked about more often. (But, I like the DQ church better than the morning service :) )

    Swanny

  3. 7-21-2011

    Art,

    Interesting… I know that you prefer simple/organic style meetings. How do you ensure that it’s not just another rendition of “And The Beat Goes On”?

    Swanny,

    Yes, there are definitely challenges. I think you will find yourself accepted more by some than by others.

    -Alan

  4. 7-21-2011

    Alan,

    I can have them over for a study or class, but unless I went through leadership training (through the church) and learned how to apply icebreakers, close in prayer, and use proper time management, a lot of them would not come because my study is not sanctioned by the local authority.

    I know it sounds like I am making this up .. but it is true from my experience :(

    How do we get past the “I am not a member” mentality? i do not want to be a member of a local body, I am already have an invitation to the banquet!

    Swanny

  5. 7-21-2011

    Well, I’m also fond of the Plymouth Brethren. I think both of these movements, a century and a half apart, were headed in the right direction: away from clericalism, towards multiple elders who are examples without authority over others; away from audience-level participation, towards more mutual building up of one another. Both of these movements said God’s word was all the authority we need to respond to Him. These things were well done in my view.

    Frustratingly, both of these movements have been heavily laced with division and only lightly sprinkled with openness among all saints. Still, they do represent glimmers of reformation. They also point to a major flaw being present in these efforts.

    I’m still learning and still puzzling over these things, like all of us here. It does seem to me that one problem with reform is that we work more on the symptoms than the disease–we just don’t go deep enough and personal enough. It’s so much easier to point to things that we can walk away from as the problem. But if we identify us as the problem, we have hard, tearful work ahead.

    My friend Sherman over at Go Reconcile hit the nail on the head for me in his post today on John 12:26: “As I examine my own experience and the lives of many Christians who come into my path, I see that most of us have not understood the teaching of Jesus in this verse. Many have a desire to “serve” the Lord. Many proclaim they are ‘serving the Lord’. But a careful examination of our lives reveals that most have not understood the requirement of “serving the Lord”. “If anyone serves me, he must follow me.””

    We can do makeovers of church structure and function, but we must also renew our hearts every day. Somehow, this must be pursued without measuring cost.

  6. 7-21-2011

    I’ve tried to do this but have found it to be very forced and superficial. After having tasted and experienced a true meeting of believers, which is an intimate community which is open and vulnerable to one another, where Christ has been the only focus and where the Spirit has ministered through all present, going to a “worship service” where you’re told when to stand, when to sit, what song to sing and how many times to sing it, and then passively listening to a prepared 3 point sermon, is a bit depressing and somewhat soul destroying. There is no life in that, no matter how “lively” the music or how fiery the sermon. Then standing around afterwards with a cup of tea and listening to people raving about the wonderful sermon the pastor preached and how beautifully the worship leader led us “into the throne room of God” is a bit nauseating. The shallow superficiality and the masks of spirituality is lacklustre.

    After having truly experienced Christ, as expressed through his Body, everything else is a bit if a farce and I feel I’m just going through the motions when I go to “church”. Its much more fun, real, and alive to BE the church.

  7. 7-21-2011

    Swanny,

    No, I don’t think you’re making it up. I can only suggest love and patience. Also, I’ve found that it’s less artificial (for you and others) with people with whom you already have contact – co-workers, neighbors, shared hobbies, etc.

    Art,

    I agree with you 100%. In fact, you’ll often find that I’ll write posts suggesting problems… but not solutions. I leave the discussion about solutions to the comments. But, the solutions are usually the same… and you hit the nail on the head.

    The only other issues is that so many have been taught XYZ is what Christ desires…

    Nick,

    Yes, it can be extremely difficult. It is just as difficult (if not more so) for someone accustomed to a “worship service” (and who has been taught and believes that is what God wants) to sit through what you would call “a true meeting of believers.”

    -Alan

  8. 7-22-2011

    Alan,

    “Have you done this before?”

    Oooooh, yes!!

  9. 7-22-2011

    Art

    We spent the last few years in a Plymouth Brethren group, very small fellowship of great people. Not perfect but it was a nice place to gather. Unfortunately we don’t have a PB group anywhere near us.