What I Do: the ingredients

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I believe that God asks those who are Christians to meet together regularly to worship…. pray, sing, teach and learn….  eat, share, laugh and cry…. extend and receive grace…. mourn and celebrate.  There are examples of this happening throughout the Bible, before, during, and after the time Jesus was actually here. 

There’s a huge difference in what a ‘church’ looked like in those days and what ‘churches’ look like now.  Regardless of the size or culture or tradition or denomination of a church, there’s some kind of plan in place when a group of people gather together weekly as a ‘church’.  In my church, I’m the one assembling that plan out of a variety of ingredients each week.

My question today has to do with the ‘ingredients’. It doesn’t seem like it should be difficult to decide what goes into a weekly ‘worship service’.  It’s a gathering of people with the purpose of worshiping God…. giving God our attention… praying and singing to and about God… learning about how life is best lived in light of who God is.  But because it’s often the only gathering of a church family on a regular basis, and because it is a church family with family-type things to take care of, there are often other things included in this gathering.  Part of the mission of the church is to connect people with each other.  But how do we decide the best way to do that when everyone’s together?  

We don’t live in a schedule-free culture; there is an expected time limit to our gatherings.  So, what gets the coveted ‘up front time’ and what doesn’t? somebody had a baby, somebody is celebrating a milestone anniversary, somebody is having a birthday, somebody is graduating, somebody is going overseas for the summer, somebody just returned from serving at a ministry in Mexico for 2 weeks, somebody is inviting people to serve in a soup kitchen, somebody needs volunteers for an event, somebody has had a great experience volunteering, somebody has a prayer request, somebody has a complaint, somebody has a great story about God working in their life.  

So you tell me….in the church you attend… which of these things do you think you should hear about during a worship service?  Which do you think should be communicated in another way? And which do you not care to hear about at all? (let me emphasize that I understand that these are not the only ingredients to a worship service. I’ve chosen to focus in this post on the ‘church life’ stuff) Speak it.

17 thoughts on “What I Do: the ingredients

  1. […] creates worship services for her local christian assembly. She is curious about what other Sunday morning gatherings mix into their gatherings to make them tasty and […]

  2. Kim’s got some pretty funky comment settings in this blog – haha!”A Pastor’s role is to be “one of” the people discipling and mentoring. Not “the” person.”Exactly.And that tension between needing/feeding/full offering plate/etc, the more I serve in ‘overseer’-type roles, the more I recognise that issue…it’s a difficult one, and I think (tough) love is the answer – of all parties involved.

  3. “models which work – essentially, each person mentoring/discipling others, so the churchtree spreads and spreads…”I wish people got this. Unfortunately, the people who often get it the least are those sitting in the chairs “needing” feeding. And too often, we as leaders play into it. A captive and happy audience means a full offering plate. Although that is a huge generalization, these thoughts can sneak in pretty easy. A Pastor’s role is to be “one of” the people discipling and mentoring. Not “the” person.

  4. Totally agree Brent. Making a difference in the community is where it’s at…or should be at. We are placing more and more emphasis on communicating from the stage/platform/pulpit how important the small groups are, and most of our growth comes from either friends first coming to small groups OR people who see our TV show. As we already have such a high % of people involved in the campus meetings, I’d rather see this % decrease knowing that people are out making a difference, not meeting for 57 hours of prayer every week (not that there’s anything wrong with that per se…)I think we’re well positioned to keep growing, because throughout the years of being small, we’ve implemented large church derived (or more specifically, Hillsong-derived) models which work – essentially, each person mentoring/discipling others, so the churchtree spreads and spreads…I often say that God invented multi-level marketing as I think it’s a good example of how discipleship really works…the principles of how one person can reach millions are right there in the Bible, smart businesses know that…we just need to use them to “sell” Truth and not Amway.Completely hijacked your comments for a totally different discussion Kim…sorry :)

  5. “Just FYI, we have a video church news segment that some of those things would get included in, we don’t have a printed bulletin, and quite a few of those items would be left to our connect groups to celebrate, share, etc, etc.”I love this, because you’ve made a point of using small groups to communicate. In other words, you’ve determined for your people that the most valuable source of communication is in the “community” groups. It’s little things like this that will eventually change the thinking of a large group of people.As to why people drive long distances, when a church love’s people, people show up. I believe(because I know you guys and your church a little) that your church is doing this and people want to be a part of that. Where we can get in trouble is when we encourage everything to take place on campus. Inevitably, people will come and attend, but the proof of community is in what is being preached and what is being acted on. We are starting to see this at our place. We are watching more and more involvement from people, outside the walls as opposed to inside the walls.There was a large report released this last week in regards to mega churches. the main comment was that the people in mega churches give less and volunteer less. My perspective? I would hope so. Because if people are giving solely to the building and serving solely on sunday AM, we are failing as a church. I would love to know how many people are giving to non profits and ministries abroad. I would love to know if the are serving in the local soup kitchen or helping out in the jails. Those stats won’t show up in these survey’s. And in my opinion, those are the stats that matter. We should be holding our people accountable to that.

  6. thanks for your comment, David. this is a great little conversation going on. And you don’t have a printed bulletin!?!?!? Oh how I dream of the day! :)

  7. I know this is kinda off topic, but given all the non-answers here, I’m figuring that’s ok…right Kim?”I hate the idea that people drive 20-30 minutes to come to our service on sunday AM. I would much rather see them having church in their immediate community with their neighbors and those around them” – I love this bit Brent. We aren’t even a large church yet, but less than 10% of our members are from the local area, some drive for an hour because they love our church…I just have no idea how dispersing it back to the communities would work as culturally (eastern Europe) people want to be in the same room as the pastor.Challenging…and not even vaguely related to your topic Kim. Or is it…Just FYI, we have a video church news segment that some of those things would get included in, we don’t have a printed bulletin, and quite a few of those items would be left to our connect groups to celebrate, share, etc, etc.

  8. Tonya… my friend brent (comments are later in this post) has reminded me that we often put too much emphasis on the Sunday AM gatherings. It’s interesting to let my thoughts wander in that direction. How do we move toward fostering community overall, not just in worship services?

  9. I am really asking as well. I think we’ve made some great progress in thinking this through with our leadership. Here’s some thoughts. I think it’s harder to attain in a big church, because I think the big church tends to put too much emphasis on Sunday AM and once you get a big ship moving, it takes quite a bit to either turn or slow down.But, it can happen in a large church. By way of community effort. A large church is no different than numerous small churches under the same building on Sunday AM. We need to take advantage of that and encourage it. This can happen when there is a clear passion for community and an effort is made by the leadership to encourage people, dare I say demand of people, to get out of the box.It’s not news to you that we are going multi site. The #1 reason we are doing this is to make our church smaller and to spread it out all over our community instead of harbor it under one roof. I think it would be a good sign if our main campus shrinks and the smaller campuses grow, as people leave the main campus and head back into their neighborhoods and get involved there. I hate the idea that people drive 20-30 minutes to come to our service on sunday AM. I would much rather see them having church in their immediate community with their neighbors and those around them. This increases awareness of immediate needs, encourages more interaction and I believe will lead to more of an effect on our community. More an effect than a well produced service under one roof could ever do.Of course, the key in the future for us is to keep that vision clear and simple. And as the campuses grow, to keep in mind that we need to continue to disperse and spread out. Exciting, challenging, but I believe in the eed will be way more impacting on the community as whole

  10. Derek… I like your suggestions. I can’t believe how hard it is to keep the ‘lifeblood of the church’ on the front burner.

  11. I get what you’re saying, brent. Do you think that’s attainable in a large church? I’m not asking in a sarcastic way… I”m really really asking. It just seems like the best examples of this in current day churches are smaller groups of people.

  12. If I may jump in :)I think we improperly look at Sunday AM and try to equate that with the Acts church. The Acts church had Sunday AM events like we do, but they were just one part of their life. Their gatherings happened daily and sometimes they would focus on teaching or eating or fellowship. And many times they were out preaching and teaching and serving as well. That seems like a beautiful view of the church and one that is easily attainable…But, only if we take emphasis off of Sunday AM.

  13. you’re so right, adam, in taking about 27 steps back for a larger view. The question I’ve asked makes the assumption that the group that has gathered is too large to have the kind of altogether- community-life you’ve described. This is exactly where we’ve evolved to a place where we can no longer rely on the model of the church in Acts. Is that wrong? I don’t think one could say it is categorically wrong, no. But it does leave us, as you said, stumped.

  14. Here’s another non-answer. I wonder if our structures create such dilemas. For instance, if true community existed in the church, many of the items listed naturally flow through life together… Arranging time ‘on stage’ would almost seem absurd. I’m reminded of some church communities I know of that simply gather for communion, a few songs, and a bit of teaching about every other week. They do this as an expression of the life they share together already deeply embedded with prayer, celebrations, mourning and such. This, however does not fit most of our experiences of church… so I’m stumped!

  15. Wow, this is some good things to think through.I’d have to say this. I wouldn’t even begin to make a list until I knew exactly what the leadership is expecting our services to be. Laying out the purpose and vision for our Sunday AM meetings is crucial. If the team has a goal to what that time is meant to be (and it can’t be everything…not possible), then you can move forward with what is placed or allowed to be included. things that don’t meet that criteria, but are considered important are placed into other aspects of the community. Possibly even extra or other meetings during the week.SO there is my non-answer answer :)

  16. I think it might create a less segmented and more coehisive atmosphere if there were more personal stories (this is what happened to us on our mission trip) and unique announcements (need help w/ volunteers or this is what’s going on in this church area/dept).We do LOTS of singing which brings us into fellowship w/ God, but how can we foster fellowship with eachother in the service.I liked how we interacted in Sat night service in the middle of things. It created community and connections.

  17. Ahh… interesting questions. My .0002 centEasy ones:Several of the items you have listed don’t happen randomly throughout the year (graduations and summer trips to be specific). Picking a Sunday in the spring to acknowledge all graduates seems reasonable since most graduations happen then. Additionally taking a few moments to highlight upcoming travels/trips seems like a good idea OR conversely in the fall giving a few moments to highlight experiences folks have had over the summer might work. Birthdays:Honestly? They happen every year. It’s a bigger deal if they don’t happen. That’s something the church should focus on. Otherwise, a monthly list in a bulletin is sufficient.Anniversaries: See Birthdays above.Volunteer opportunities/sharing about mission/volunteer work:This is the true lifeblood of the church at work. If someone has opportunities or experiences to share with the church I think they should be given a chance to do so. Or at least be given the publicity via an announcement.That’s all I have. D

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