One big switch for our church this Fall was a move to a different building for our worship gatherings. Usually a change of location is a big deal for churches. For us, this wasn’t the first time we’ve switched gathering location, it’s happened 3 times before. The change was largely a non-event with little fanfare and no uproar.
It got me thinking: why are we so casual about changing gathering space? Usually new meeting spaces or just the new Fall launch is met with fanfare and huge anticipation by a contemporary church. I think I know the answer.
Some churches keep to a routine and have set liturgies and it works (sometimes it does get old). Other churches try to stay contemporary with the latest music and preaching. The common denominator in the two? The church service. Usually most of the resources of a church will be used for their building and running the service. For leaders, the primary concern and measurement of success is how many people come to service. This means, either implicitly or explicitly, the most important thing is Sunday service.
Unfortunately, when we focus all of our attentions at running a service what are we really teaching? If it’s boring stop coming or find a better one? In many ways leaders in the church have created a culture where people come and get, a consumerism seeking the weekly dose of religion. This is the inevitable outcome when we center the church’s existence from the service out. This is a posture that says the church itself IS in fact the steeple, and not primarily the people.
I think this is where we’re a bit different. We didn’t start with a church service (yet completely value the need for the gathering). We are scattered people that come together and gather. What we’ve postured and practiced first is simply community. We start with people and then move to a service, rather than the other way around. Our identity, therefore, isn’t wrapped up in the kind of service offered or a particular sermon series. Rather, it’s the culmination of the church community participating in the unfolding mission God has to see Kingdom come in our city and beyond. We are participants in that together first, then we come together every other week to acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ in this pursuit.