Okay. I know this happened a few weeks ago, which at the pace things seem to go on the internet, is apparently a really long time. But I trust it’s not too late to join the conversation. I actually heard about Donald Miller’s blog post before I had caught up to it (his is one I subscribe to but I’ve been behind on my blog reading) and read it myself. He says “I’m nearly alone in this”. Whether that’s true or not, I certainly identified. So I want to stand up and say that I’m with you Don. This is also a good catalyst for me to share some of my thoughts on worship services.
Before I go any further, we need to discuss church. Because when people talk about this subject, they tend to do so in terms of whether one should or shouldn’t “go to church”. Though most people wouldn’t consciously say so, unfortunately being a Christian is in practice largely equated with “going to church”. And by “going to church” we most often mean attending a Sunday morning “worship service” held by an institution known as a church. (Sometimes the service can be Saturday or Sunday evening as an alternative.) So in reality, the debate on whether or not to go to church seems to some, at least subconsciously, more like a debate on whether or not one is a Christian. I know because I felt the turmoil myself when I stopped attending weekly worship services. And this explains why people get passionate about the “going to church” debate.
This idea is deeply ingrained in people’s minds because it has been practiced this way for centuries. However I believe this is a religious expression of “Christianity” rather than the type of life Jesus had in mind. (Check out the book “Pagan Christianity?” and the companion “Reimagining Church” for more information on this topic.) This discussion could be a whole book in itself, however I plan to move on. Suffice to say, being a Christian doesn’t equate to attending a weekly service.
I don’t attend weekly church worship services. But this doesn’t mean I’m not a practicing Christian nor that I’m against church. On the contrary, I’m more committed now than before and I believe that being a part of a church is a core piece of following Christ. Though in practice “church” typically refers to an institution, I don’t believe this is really what the church is supposed to be. I think Frank Viola has the best definition of church I’ve heard: a group of people who are learning how to live by divine life together. Again, this could be a topic all its own, however I want to address the worship service (which I’ll begin to do in part 2).