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Gotta keep the main thing the main thing… and the main thing is the Sunday event?

Posted by on Nov 15, 2011 in blog links, gathering | 10 comments

Gotta keep the main thing the main thing… and the main thing is the Sunday event?

Hamo at “Backyardmissionary” is doing some reflection in his post “Get Sunday right and the rest will take care of itself.” In fact, he’s reflecting back 9 years to his very first blog post that had the same title: “Get Sunday right and the rest will take care of itself.”

Now… he’s not so sure. He says that way of thinking was naive, foolish, absurd.

There are several good parts of his post, but I’ll point out a few:

I really cannot imagine Jesus and the apostles ever sitting around during the week and asking the question ‘ok – how are we going to do sabbath this week?’ I don’t see from the NT that their lives revolved around the planning and execution of one major weekly event.

Surely they would have told us about it if it was that important?…

Hmmm…

But I do see that their lives revolved around tight relationships with each other and around questions of how they lived out their radical devotion to Christ in the world they were a part of. I see them very focused on living and demonstrating the kingdom of God in many different ways thru everyday life.

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Jesus called us to a life – a life in community – and that will inevitably involve meeting, but I would forgive anyone who interpreted Christianity to be a weekly commitment to a Sunday event – because so much of what is communicated (often unconsciously) is exactly that.

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However shifting people’s deeply entrenched understandings of church, mission and the kingdom is something I baulk at because it inevitably involves pain and conflict. It inevitably involves being misunderstood and maybe even cast in the light of a villain who just wants to screw things up. And very few people are intentionally obstructive – its just how we have been trained to think…

So some days I sit and wonder. Is it worth it?

I know that getting Sunday right is not the answer but the primary platform to speak to this expression of church is… you guessed it… Sunday…

Is the solution part of the problem?…

I love these kinds of posts: honest, passionate, filled with the real pain and struggles of life. Yes, for most of Christianity, the Sunday event is the main thing… I’ve even heard the “Sunday morning worship service” referred to as “the main event.” (Oh, I know that most Christians would say that Jesus is the main thing…)

So… if most people think that the Sunday morning worship service is “the main thing,” is it possible to communicate otherwise outside of that event? Isn’t anything said or done outside of that context considered to be less important, less normative, less Christian?

Or, is there another solution? Is there another way to teach people that the Sunday morning worship service is not the pinnacle of following Jesus?


10 Comments

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  1. 11-15-2011

    I used to think so too, at least subconsciously. I’m not a pastor, but I did everything I could do to help make Sunday morning a “success.” I helped organize greeters. Organized adult Sunday School. Taught SS. Ushered. Made sure we had hot coffee. Made and distributed follow-up cards. Made church brochures. Kept up the web site so people could see what wonderful activities and programs we had. On and on. And now I feel so much of it was time wasted. Attending the large service now ranks pretty low on my list. I often find myself during it — listening/singing to the music, listening to the sermon, etc. — just praying that God would use it somehow. I’m sort of there just for appearances sake so the church leaders will stay off my back. Higher priority spiritual “activity” includes time with my wife, my quiet time and prayer time with God, the one hour a week I spend with my buddy, Andy, (any time with Andy, really) in the Word, time with my discussion group on living sent lives, our prayer group for parents of adult children, any time I spend with my children (since I’m their first discipler, if you will). If I had made those things a higher priority than the Sunday service for the past 30 years, I think I’d have a lot more fruit in my life.

  2. 11-15-2011

    Excellent thinking here.. applies to performers as well as they tend to think of their success as a musician relative only to performance.. I don’t agree with this at all.. as I believe a vibrant musical community must consist of contributions at every level.. from both performers and audiences…

  3. 11-15-2011

    In the end, it is all about relationships and the divine spark… Worship is just part of that relationship model… and it is one that too many have turned upside down. forgetting the why…

  4. 11-15-2011

    I suspect there will be different ways that others will learn that the large Sunday program is not the main thing to being the church.

    I think some will figure it out by reading books, blogs, etc that make a good argument.

    Others will figure it out by God moving them in unique ways.

    Hopefully the Bible will also be a source for everyone on this journey.

    But I think the majority of people won’t discover it until they really get to know someone else who knows what fellowship means AND is actively modelling it. The best way to learn something is to watch someone live the theory out. We need more people to lead by example.

    It may take some time. As some change their way of thinking, then change their way of living. More will get the opportunity to see Christ’s love in the form of an organic living body.

  5. 11-15-2011

    Dan,

    I’ve been there too. Today, are you more likely to miss the Sunday event or one of the other spiritual activities that you mentioned?

    Jeff,

    I would go so far as saying that we are worshiping God when we are serving others in ways that build them up.

    Jon,

    Thanks for answering my questions. I think you’re right that God can work through many different means. I also agree that relationship can be a prime tool to help people rethink the focus on the Sunday event.

    -Alan

  6. 11-15-2011

    Much more likely to miss the Sunday event. Definitely.

  7. 11-16-2011

    It is very interesting that this popped up today. I was in a discussion this morning on what is the most important aspect of sunday morning worship and a discussion is going on about that topic. Is it the reading of scripture, is it the music, is it the enviornment, is it the message, is it communion, or is it fellowship or is it ….

    I have some thoughts on it but I think that might be the wrong question to be discussing. It is tough because for hundreds of years, we have spotlighted Sunday morning. For many, it is one hour of the week — what about the other 167 hours ??

    Also, we spend numerous hours and countless amount of money to ensure that Sunday morning is great. I think that we may be missing the boat. We cannot do a lot of things that need to be done because Sunday is coming and we have to make it right. I know that I am guilty of this as well, because whoa, we are 4 days away from Sunday morning and I have to make sure all is done …. gotta run

  8. 11-16-2011

    Dan,

    Has that decision caused any problems?

    Jeff,

    Yes, I know this is a real struggle, and in certain contexts you are required to treat the Sunday event as the main thing. What kind of changes would you think would have to occur before that focus could shift for you and the church there?

    -Alan

  9. 11-16-2011

    There are times my wife and I almost feel shunned by church leadership because we’ve declined to be involved as much as we once were. One elder in particular barely speaks to us. Our church is kind of dysfunctional about talking things out and ironing out differences so there hasn’t been much opportunity for us to discuss any of this with the pastor, elders or anyone. They’re much more likely to talk about us than to us. And I confess that my attitude hasn’t always been the best. We’ve seriously thought about bailing from this church altogether, but we have some close friends we don’t want to feel like we’re abandoning.

    One reason to go to the Sunday event, I should have mentioned, is to meet people — those we already know and newer people — so we include it in our efforts to help disciple others and invite them to discussion groups or our house. Kind of a fishing pond.

  10. 11-16-2011

    Dan,

    I was afraid that would be your answer. Thank you for sharing more on this comment thread. The personal experience is extremely helpful, not only for me, but also for my readers!

    -Alan