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Thoughts on Church

January 30, 2008

Here’s a typical American, evangelical, protestant church service – be it Baptist, Presbyterian, or the now popular non-denominational:

The service begins with song – maybe three or four – with a few interspersals of prayer and/or scripture reading. Usually if there is a baptism or a baby dedication, it occurs at the very beginning of the service or right after the first song. Around this time, many churches have a time of greeting, although I think this is becoming extinct. Now, depending on the type of church we’re talking about, a quarter of the way through there is usually either a skit, video presentation, testimony or some scripture reading. Then comes the musical performance. Hopefully after that there is some sort of time of confession – corporate prayer, maybe coming down front to kneel, or a pastoral prayer with a moment of silent prayer for the congregation. After this, probably another song or they may just jump right into the sermon. The pastor then closes his sermon with an invitation (many variations here) and a quick prayer. At this point the offering is taken – although many churches like to do this sometime before the sermon. Finally there is a bit more music and if you happen to be there on the right day, you might get the Lord’s Supper.  Then you’re dismissed.

I think that pretty much captures the average structure of the average protestant church. Of course, there is much difference in the way many of these churches carry these services out. Some are upbeat and “full of the spirit,” while some are more serious and solemn. Some are more formal, while some have  a relaxed feel. Some prefer traditional hymns on an organ and piano, while some are all out contemporary with a full on rock band. Some have preachers who exposite the scriptures verse by verse, and some have preachers who preach topically (5 keys to impoving your relationship with your kids).

Have you ever thought about why you do things in this order? Or why do you do any of these things at all? Is it because of tradition? Is it because of Scripture? What is even the point of gathering on Sundays (or other days of the week, as the case may be) to worship God?

 Well, my answers to these questions are the reason why I want to puke when I see the video from my previous post. And other’s answers to these questions are why they disagree with my previous post. Now there are certainly a wide range of answers to these questions, but I’m going to attempt (again) to characterize these answers in a general response: Church is where we come to worship God and strengthen our personal relationship with Christ. Church is where Christ meets/speaks to me through the preaching of the Word, thereby reassuring us in our spiritual journey, convicting us of our sin, or giving us instruction for our daily walk. Church also provides an outlet for us to worship God with our whole being – as we sing praises, pray, and place our needs on the altar. Church also provides the opportunity for Christian fellowship that is essential to our lives – there’s nothing that encourages me like worshipping with the body!

Am I way off with this? Before I continue with my answers (and because this post is long enough already), I’d like to know if ya’ll agree, or what you would add or subtract – either regarding the structure of the church service or the reasons for having church.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 31, 2008 9:41 am

    It should be a corporate gathering of the local church, Brian. This is what I’m finding young, “emerging” types want, and I see unbelievers as embracing this, quite ironically, also. That video you posted made me spew.

  2. January 31, 2008 11:45 am

    Kevin,

    I agree with you. What about the “why” though? What would you tell your congregants if they asked you why ya’ll meet every Sunday at the Tiger Motel?

    BTW, Tell the Schreiners that Denise and I say “hi” and that we miss them! I can’t wait to hear how the Thursday night forum goes. Will the audio be available somewhere?

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