There seems to be a bizarre trend in the western world where there is “any excuse” to not have worship services!
- “Oh, it’s Boxing day, we met yesterday!“
- “Oh, it’s August, we don’t get many in the congregation so let’s reduce the number of our services!” (The other bizarre thing is a lot of “youth-related” activities shut down despite the fact that it is probably needed more at that point as they haven’t got much to do than when they have school, homework, and after-school clubs etc! It’s a running joke in youth-work circles but Church youth-work shuts down too, to give the leaders a break!)
I mentioned that last week, that when I have been to South Africa, we almost go to a service every night! Now unless this was because they wanted to get as much from the “visiting speakers” as possible, they seemed to me to have things right! Should we not WANT to meet every night/day, where we worship God and give testimony to his love, grace and faithfulness?
I know that the western world doesn’t have a great sense of community now, I have been recently taken aback however by how friendly our neighbours are, they have offered us use of their garden tools, always chatting to us (admittedly one set of neighbours mostly talks to us about cats and the previous occupants but still they are always up for a natter!) Living close to “a place to gather and worship” is no longer possible for some people, and most of us are too wrapped up in our own world, to take time to meet with others.
What is the church about? Why do we go? Jesus said “where 2 or more are gathered in my name I am there with them” So its about:-
- Fellowship- Most children and young adults primary reason is to go to see their friends!
- Worship- taking time to give God the praise and thanks that he is due!
- Relationship- working on your relationship with God and how this impacts our “worldly” relationships
But people have made it into something that it shouldn’t be! If Jesus was standing at the church door being a “welcomer” he would say “everyone come in!“, but by our actions and inaction we give the impression that some people are not welcome.
I know for a fact that contentious issues about homosexuality and women leaders divide opinion and cause great debate, but this has distracted the “Christian Church” from dealing with the more desperate problem of poverty, both financial and moral. The early church had similar problems, Paul had to write letters to Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, Rome, Philippi and Thessolonia as they were arguing, being immoral and forgetting the reason why they were even meeting!
I believe that Christians should meet more than once a week, small groups/bible study groups are only worth doing if they actually consist of sharing each others struggles, supporting each other in prayer, reading God’s word and coming away knowing that there are people who love you, and knowing more about God’s love/will.
What is your idea of an ideal church? I have been told and I know from personal experience that “there is no perfect church” but my ideal church would look like this:-
- Small enough for every member to feel they are part of a family.
- Everyone feels welcome.
- Through the prompting of the holy spirit, people are healed and/or challenged!
- Every meeting has worship songs that inspire you to sing and worship God. (I realise that you need meditative songs as well as songs that enable you to “sing out from your soul“)
- Every week you feel the presence of God
- Every member has a role in serving the church and no-one takes a spectator/pew-filling role.
- Every preacher gives testimony to God’s grace and love every week, but challenges you to examine your walk with God so that you keep “running the race set before you“!
- Every meeting contains people testifying to the wonder of God, (In my opinion, testimonies are as powerful if not sometimes more so than a sermon/talk!).
- The holy spirit is moving so much so that some weeks you don’t get a sermon because God is ministering to everyone without a human conduit! (I must say this is a lot better than an unchallenging sermon! It takes great courage and humility for the leader to allow it instead of stopping it so they can preach!)
- Every member feels free to get “lost in worship“, no one feels self-conscious about raising their hands.
- God’s word is quoted more than parts from a book by a theologian or christian writer! (Do we need to know what they said? I would rather know what God said and is still saying!)
I would like to know what do you look for in a church? Is there anything you would add, is there anything that I have missed?