Sunday, September 19, 2010

Early Morning Rant

One of the few downsides to my job as an air traffic controller is the crazy schedule that I work. I did a swap with one of my co-workers that had me working the mid shift on Friday night/Saturday morning--not a big deal but I find myself wide awake at just past midnight. I slept from 8 to 12:30 earlier today, spent a few hours at Silver Dollar City with Chris this afternoon, took a little nap when we got home--now I'm awake. After laying awake for more than 45 minutes, I just decided to go with it and get up for a while.

Lately, I've been thinking about how we do church--not just at Hopedale, but Christian churches in general.

Back in 1995, Rick Warren wrote The Purpose Driven Church. In it, he named five purposes of the church: Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry and Mission (Evangelism). These were the five keys to successfully growing a church.

One of the things that I've noticed is that we try to accomplish all of these things--at the same time on Sunday morning. Sunday morning church has become a "one stop shopping" kind of venue so that we can satisfy all of the requirements in a few hours and check all of the boxes for the entire week with a single visit to the church of our choosing. The problem is that it doesn't really work that way. By taking the time that is set aside for worship and trying to roll everything else into it, we may do all of those things--we just don't do them well.

What should be all about worshiping our great God has turned into a time of fellowshipping with one another, teaching (discipling) from the Bible, evangelizing (that is our pastor's job, right?) and ... well, let's face it, ministry isn't really our strong suit. If we can't find a way to take care of it on Sunday morning, it just isn't going to happen.

Oh yeah...and worshipping. Don't forget that. It is why we do Sunday mornings, isn't it?

What would happen if the only thing we do when we get together on Sunday mornings is to worship our God? What would happen if the pastor never made an altar call or shared the plan of salvation from the pulpit and that became our job as followers of Jesus (evangelism)? What would happen if we really started meeting each others needs and the needs of the community around us (ministry)? What would happen to the church if the people of the church became committed to learning about the Savior that we claim to be following (discipleship)? What would happen if we became a true family of believers that met with each other and shared a meal once in a while--away from church (fellowship)?

What would happen if we came to church and didn't expect to receive one little thing? What would happen if the only thing that we wanted to do, on any given Sunday morning, is to worship--truly worship--our God?

Honestly, I have to say that our church attendance would drop off dramatically.

And since butts in the pews or cars in the parking lot equates to dollars in the offering, we don't want to do anything that will keep people away. We would rather have a church full of people that are happily checking off the religion box each week (and throwing a few dollars our way) as they travel the broad road to hell than to worship God and to follow the teachings of Jesus.

It's almost 1:30 in the morning now and I doubt that many will read this before going to church on this last Sunday of summer. If you are one of the few readers that read this before church this morning, I want to encourage you to set everything else aside and just worship God. Don't ask Him for a single thing. Give to Him. Paul writes that we should be living sacrifices. That we should live for Him. Paul says it's our reasonable act of worship.

Maybe you're reading this and you don't go to church. Maybe Sunday morning is past and you missed the opportunity...for this week.

Find a way to worship God. Find a fellowship of believers that you can learn from and work with. Be purposeful in your daily walk with God. Don't wait for next week. Begin by worshipping Him now.



Mike said...

If you don't get some sleep you will be dead.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. The last church I went to was all about the Sunday worship. The services rocked--they were great celebrations. Everything else--fellowship, ministry, outreach, teaching--happened outside of the Sunday services. It was a great, vibrant community.


John said...


I think that's the way it's supposed to be. Unfortunately, that kind of church is a rarity today--even worse, that kind of church often comes under great criticism from the main stream.

If there is any irony in the timing of this morning's post, Hopedale was a classic example of cutting short the worship portion of this morning's service because of a poorly timed report for the dedication of our new building.

The building dedication was in the afternoon and (imho) would have been the time for the report. Instead, the report took away from the time of worship. While the building dedication is an important part of our ministry and is a part of our worship, I still feel that the report could have been contained in the one dedication service and not a part of the main service.


Amanda said...

I'm only two days too late in reading this and I did go to church on Sunday. Sadly, I probably didn't do as much worshiping as I should have. I'm always too distracted trying to keep Aaron and Adrian in line. Maybe we should go to church in shifts...

Anonymous said...

Really interesting observations, John! I used to attend a church where business crept in everywhere. Meetings were conducted during fellowship time, and even my poor wife (church secretary) couldn't pray in church on Sunday morning without someone bugging her about church business! We've moved on...

I'm going to put a link to this rant on our church facebook page and see if anyone has any thoughts. I think you're spot on that we often try to cram everything into one visit, although I never really thought of it that way. people are so busy and stretched thin. One can get a lot of eye rolls when suggesting another meeting or activity that "drags" people out of the house to church during the week...