Sunday, July 01, 2007

Shaping of Things to Come Part 4

From pages 12-13 of The Shaping of Things to Come:

“How could a bunch of Christians running a pub in Bradford be a church? … They don’t always meet in the same room on a Sunday for church services, but they are worshipping God, building Christian community, and serving their world. They meet the biblical criteria for a church, but they don’t often look like church as we are used to thinking of it. A helpful way of looking at the post-Christendom church is to see not disorder but a diaspora.”

My argument has been for some time that Awana and some Bible studies were more accurately ‘church’ than the Sunday morning services/congregation. The "parachurch ministries" themselves deny this, encouraging you to attend a traditional church as well. Perhaps they, while recognizing the need to be more New-Testament, have failed to shake off the Christendom custom-entrenched mindset.

Also, I like the imagery and associations of describing the missional church as diaspora. Right after the start of the church in Acts, persecution began with the martyrdom of Stephen. The immediate result was that the disciples of Christ dispersed and carried the gospel with them wherever they went. Is something similar happening again? Is this new house-church movement one of evangelism?

My friend who recommended this book to me was chatting with me the other day, and we wonder why we call the Sunday morning meetings "worship services." There is more going on in these Sunday morning meetings than just the "worship" part. There is usually preaching, which when biblical is usually evangelistic. In our contexts sermons are styled as teaching, just not in a mode described frequently in the New Testament. We're supposed to be worshiping God everywhere and always, and praise is only part. The songs we sing are about praise, and this is more the instruction in the Bible than to be worshiping in our congregations. And a lot of the songs we sing, besides the praise hymns and choruses, are testimonial or inspirational or prayerful. So what should the meetings be called?

To God be all glory.

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