Friday, 17 February 2012

What happens on Sunday?

O.K. so a few months ago I suggested that treating Sundays as simply a time for absolution and a bit of warming our hearts up ready for the week ahead was not really where it was at in the Sunday world. However, I failed to offer any wisdom (or folly) about what should happen when the local church gather together on a Sunday. If it's not about absolution and firing ourselves up then what is it about? Is it just another ceremony? Another thing to go to? A way to make ourselves (or if we're lucky God and others) feel a bit better? Well here are my somewhat rambling and certainly not profound thoughts on what Sunday Gatherings need to be.

1. Sunday Gatherings need to reflect the wider life of the church. Too often Sunday's bear no relation to the lives of the people there. Until Sundays are a place where a people come together and reflect the values, relationships and passions of that people then they will always be either

a) an event which is there to contribute to life instead of a natural outflow and part of the life we lead.

b) an event which is separate to the rest of life and seems distant and unrelated to life.

2. Sunday Gatherings should function as a demonstration of the people God is calling into his kingdom. God is calling to himself a funny mix of unimpressive people and giving them new life and new relationships. A Sunday Gathering should be a demonstration of this as a wide range of people come together to show the unity which the Holy Spirit gives and to demonstrate the new values of the kingdom in the way they relate. We can do this outside of this gathering but by very definition a gathering is a great opportunity to demonstrate the gospel community.

3. Sunday Gatherings are a great opportunity for training and equipping Christians. As we come together around God's word, to hear him speak and to relate to him and each other we have a great chance to equip each other for our Christian lives as God uses these gatherings to grow us into the likeness of his son. This sounds incredibly obvious but I think there has been a move away from this within many churches as we attempt to free wheel our way towards godliness. I wonder to what extent we now only seek to inspire people on Sundays rather than using these opportunities to train and empower people to know, serve and love God better.

I am willing to be convinced that I've got all of these wrongs and happy to rethink how the Sunday gathering of God's people should function. I certainly have not got this nailed yet so feel free to comment or offer thoughts. However, my concern is that it's very easy for Sunday Gatherings to just happen and keep happening without any real thoughts regarding what actually they're there for.


  1. How would you say the training element would make the standard sort of sermon (or other parts of the service) different?

  2. I am not sure it necessarily would but here are a few things I'd want to be thinking about
    1. If it's about training does it need more active involvement from those present than in the traditional sermon set up.

    1a) Is there a time for training which people have to work at a bit? Sometimes I wonder whether we have completely abandoned the idea that godliness is something we work at. As a result sometimes I think we feel like we need to make sure Sundays are not making people do things they don't want to. Sometimes training should be uncomfortable and stretching?

    2. Is our time effectively equipping people for the lives we lead? For example how well thought through is the application? Is it all about energy and inspiration or is there training in godliness too?

    3. What impact will this have on the lives of the people present? I am aware that we mustn't preach works but the New Testament is full of things we are to pursue and things we are to flee from. The NT is full of instructions but the sermons I often here tend not to be. The expectation seems to be we come and go basically the same.

    I probably need to think these things through. these thoughts are still very much in their infancy!

  3. have you heard chandler talk about what he calls the difference between training and working out? he compares someone at a gym who only ever works their biceps to someone training on a team where they are taught things, try it, receive correction, practice it, do it in a match, respond to mistakes etc.

    That is obviously a lot easier to do in the context of the wider life of the church (inc sundays) which is back to the first point you made