Sunday mornings: the centre or the heart beat?
Should our main gathering draw everything in, or be the place that gives life to each other and the activities we are involved in? By Tim Parkman
Somewhere in my growing up and through no teaching or fault of anyone, I had this view that Sunday morning worship was the centre of our life as church together.
It was the place we all came to, the time in which all aspects of the church came together and worshipped. I am now coming to the understanding that this is wrong and could do more harm than good.
Rather than our Sunday worship (or whenever we meet as the gathered community) being the centre which draws everything in, it should be the heartbeat which gives life to one another and the activities we are involved in.
This does not undermine the role of our gathering, a heart beat needs to be strong, it needs to be an important part of our living, it is important to make sure that it is healthy and vibrant.
If anything this model increases the importance and sanctity of this gathering, but it also means that we are not always asking how we can draw the keep fit class, messy church, embroidery group (you get the idea) into the the Sunday morning worship. Rather it asks: how can we bring life to these groups?
Yes, an offshoot might be that people want to join us as we gather, but that is not the focus of our worship and our being. It's about how we bring life - God’s refreshing life - to our community from our acts of worship, rather than how can we get people in.
It's a subtle difference, but one that I think is important as we wrestle with what it means to be the gathered church and then scattered as we relate to the world around.
Imagine what it would look like if our gathered worship gave life, rather than trying to suck everything in (yours may already look like this), how people would leave knowing they are being asked to bring life to someone or something, rather than thinking about how they can get more people to the Sunday service.
Jesus came that may have life to the full. Let us not turn this life into a vacuum, but rather a heart that gives life to our community and our communities.
Tim Parkman is the Minister of Saltash Baptist Church, Cornwall
Image: Congregation, Stockton Baptist Tabernacle Church/freefoto.com