I’ve begun to wonder what church would look like if Sunday morning worship stopped being the central focus of the church’s ministry.
– What if Sunday morning were a celebration of community and a rallying together of community groups?
– What if we came together purely for communion, prayers, and a simple message pushing us back to community groups for discussion and implentation?
– What if instead of investing the time it takes to put on a worship service the church staff served the community and offered leftovers on Sunday morning?
– What if the program of the church were just serving the community?
– What if discipleship were of “while going” activity as Matthew 28 suggests?
– What is going to the church were seen as a negative in light of being the church?
– What if churches intentionally sold their properties and chose to meet in the public arena?
– What if each community gathering became a place to serve the poor a meal?
– What if community groups pooled their resources and invested in their own projects?
Why not these things? Probably because in America we don’t do this things. In America we do much the opposite. A successful church in the eyes of the American evangelical church has a big building with a big worship service attended by thousands of people. It flashes wealth on its stage. People come to be seen. People come to be awed. People take pictures. The Sunday morning worship service takes the most talented people in the community and locks their time into serving the worship service… a one hour event!
The common church lives to serve itself with nominal efforts to reach the community where the building happens to be. In essense, a “successful congregation” lives as a barnacle on its community. It pays no taxes but receives millions of dollars in income. It says it exists for the community where it resides while importing most of its staff and spending most of its resources on things that don’t actually benefit the community. Traditionally, the successful evangelical church demands access to the communities resources when they desire, but the opposite courtesy is not offered back. It often houses the best facilities in town… but acts like a country club by limiting their access to members only. The chamber of commerce can’t meet there. Local charities cannot have their events there. The school cannot use their gym or have a tutoring program there. How about housing a community development organization? Yeah, right… not in our church… we have worship team practice. Simply put, the public is not welcome at most churches.
I don’t really think Jesus intended for the church to become a barnacle on its community. I believe he desired for his church to be the bedrock of the community. I long to see my own church give more and more to the community it serves. More importantly, I long to see churches everywhere lean into practically meeting the needs of their community.
Success for each congregation should be defined in context. Enough with the copycat compromise.