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Blog // Thoughts
October 2, 2007

Sundays Are For…

As a lapsed Purpose-Driven‚Ñ¢ Christian, Stuart’s comments on Sunday mornings and church “community” really hit home. “People who voluntarily no longer go to Church, especially those who once were active in purpose driven evangelical churches have a look about them – that is they look relieved and relaxed. On Sunday’s they now do things:- laugh, […]

As a lapsed Purpose-Driven‚Ñ¢ Christian, Stuart’s comments on Sunday mornings and church “community” really hit home.

“People who voluntarily no longer go to Church, especially those who once were active in purpose driven evangelical churches have a look about them – that is they look relieved and relaxed. On Sunday’s they now do things:- laugh, love, stay long in bed, eat breakfast together, go for a walk, linger, potter – they experience the reality of that old advert ‘Easy Like a Sunday Morning’ and are LOVING IT!

What about community? (I ask/we ask, drawing on our best Trinitarian theology and biblical passages) – they smile in return, a knowing smile filled with an honesty liberated from having to give the party line answer, a smile which says – ‘Yeah, it is important but let’s cut the…you don’t get community in Church!’.”

Yes, I’m prone to that knowing smile. Yes, I look back at my programmatic understanding of church with a mix of sorrow and horror. Yes, I’m inclined to treat claims about church community with a mix of suspicion and unease. Yes, I sometimes feel like Sunday mornings spent over a lazy coffee are something of a spiritual balm.

The important insight really comes at the end of Stuart’s blogpost,

“Not all the people who go for coffe(e) now to read the Sunday papers instead of going to Church would claim that they find Jesus here more than they would in Church. And most still follow Jesus. No, probably they would simply claim that they find him there just the same. The difference is that going for coffee is more enjoyable, more honest, more human, more life affirming – so it is just a smart, maybe a Christian, choice.”

Skipping church might not be better than going, but often it feels no worse – this is the challenge. It’s here where I part company with non-church advocates; I still believe in the idea, the promise, the call of church. But, when your outlook becomes non-programmatic, when you grow sceptical of age/stage/class streaming, then it really calls into question what belonging and attending mean.

[tags] Sunday, Church, Ecclesiology [/tags]

Responses
Lindsay Cullen 15 years ago

An interesting issue – particularly as I am now in a place where I am not involved in leadership in a particular congregation and so the family has the freedom to choose where or when (or if!) we should attend. So far (4 weeks) it has been non-attendance and I’m not feeling particularly motivated.

I do want to meet with people who are striving to help one another to serve Christ’s mission in the world, I’m just not sure I want to do it in the traditional ‘church’ kind of way.

Interesting aside – when my wife mentioned to a relative that she wanted to do something less traditional for church, the reply was “Oh, you want to try Hillsong then.” Clearly some people have not shifted paradigm! 🙂

Fernando Gros 15 years ago

Lindsay – there’s something wonderfully provocative in your second paragraph.

“I do want to meet with people who are striving to help one another to serve Christ‚Äôs mission in the world, I‚Äôm just not sure I want to do it in the traditional ‚Äòchurch‚Äô kind of way.”

In a sense, to me at least, meeting “…with people who are striving to help one another to serve Christ‚Äôs mission in the world,” is a pretty good description of what church should be. However, that isn’t the reality. In an odd way it makes me realise that there was something intuitively right (if not socially morally so), in exclusivist churches that wanted to restrict membership.

I’d love to see you flesh this out a little more in your blog or other writing because it feels like a powerful insight. I have a few ideas, but they are mostly bad ones.

Shaun 15 years ago

going to church is more than feeling good. church is not just for the individual. it is for the body of Christ. there is nothing wrong with going out and having a good and relaxing time. Church does not just have to be on Sunday’s. it is just on Sunday because that is the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Ephesians 4:11-16

“And He gavesome as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result we are no longer to be children, toosed here and there by waves and carried out by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in decietful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects in to Him whowho is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held togetherby what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the bodyfor the building up of itself in love.”

we will never know everything about God, even pastors do not know His complete plan. that is why we are to continually seek the unity of a church to help guide us and teach to the truth.

Fernando Gros 15 years ago

Shaun thanks for your comment. Did my post imply that going to church is only about feeling good? Of course church is about a lot more than having an emotional high (something I’ve said more than a few times on this blog). But, does a sense of belonging, friendship, peace and even joy not have at least some role to play in attending church? I suspect those things are important.

The movement to what we could call a “Sunday-less faith” is a growing one and it is important to remember that those taking that path are not all apostate, deceived or backslidden. Many are committed to the faith, committed to the idea of community and committed to mission.

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