Wednesday, October 12, 2005
A WEDDING EVERY WEEK? by Keith Giles
Has the modern church become a “Wedding-A-Week” event?
Think of what it takes to pull off a wedding. You need an event planner just to make sure everything comes together logistically and that the ceremony is successful. Someone has to take care of the flowers, the food, the cake, the dresses, the tuxedos, the gifts, the parking, the DJ, the lights, the video, etc., etc. It’s a very big deal and no one in their right mind would attempt to put on a wedding every weekend…or would they?
Think of what goes into a typical Sunday morning worship service. Someone has to put together the bulletin, the order of service, the flowers, the coffee, the visitors table, the information booths, and clean the building before and after the service. The band, or the choir, has to be practiced, prepared and ready for the performance. The announcements have to be loaded on the power point slides in advance. Someone has to make sure that the ushers are ready, that visitors are welcomed, and that the Sunday School and child-care workers and rooms are all set up and staffed.
We haven’t even mentioned the pastor and his sermon yet.
Most Sunday morning worship services are a big production.
Is that what the early church went through?
Not even close.
The early church met in homes. They read scripture. They prayed for each other. They sang hymns spontaneously and they shared a common meal among their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Here’s another thing I find interesting about weddings. Do you think that community happens during a wedding? Not really…but why not? Isn’t a wedding a gathering of two families and all their friends into a single place? They’re even in a church building. So, why don’t we have community at weddings?
Before I answer that, let’s take that same family and look at what happens when they get together for Thanksgiving or a family reunion. Do you think community happens during these gatherings? Probably so…but again, why is that? It’s the same family isn’t it? What’s the difference?
The main differences are that, in the home setting of Thanksgiving dinner, no one is acting as an event planner. No one worries if the kids play outside before or after the meal, or if Grandma wants to tell her fond stories about the old days before desert or after they say “Grace”. The gathering is spontaneous. It’s about being the family, not acting out roles.
Something happens when you take that same family and place them in an event or a performance. They loose the environment necessary to facilitate community.
It’s almost funny to me to hear pastors and Christian leaders go on and on about how they wish their churches could develop community. We all wonder why talking about it and reading books about it and having potlucks don’t solve this problem.
We ask ourselves, “Why can’t we have a sense of community the way the early church experienced?”
The answer? “Because we’re not living the way those early Christians lived. We’re not meeting in homes they way they did. We’re not sharing all that God has given us with our neighbors and our fellow Believers. That’s why we don’t experience the same sense of community.”
One family gathering is large, and focused on following an event schedule. They other gathering, of the same family, is smaller and less formal, focused on being the family and enjoying a shared meal in a home.
Which of these is most like the early church?
Which is most likely to provide the atmosphere necessary to inspire community?
The early church was a divinely inspired system designed to create community, facilitate discipleship, mentoring and exponential multiplication, and we should be grateful that it was successful or else none of us would be here now.
For 300 years the church that Jesus inspired and that the Apostles crafted withstood persecution, created disciples, evangelized the lost, penetrated the culture and “turned the world upside down”.
I for one feel that it’s time for the people of God to return to this system of being the church and embodying the message of the Gospel, rather than bringing people to a building where they can hear a message.
By Keith Giles