Church service. That dreaded event. Both Christians and non-Christians probably have an opinion about a church service. And it’s probably not that it’s awesome.
Church services vary greatly depending on your tradition. Some are liturgical, following a set structure having congregational readings, prayers, specific times you stand and sit and a focus on taking communion.
Some are the opposite, having nothing that is required by the tradition. Usually these services focus on singing and preaching and use the sandwich structure. Sing, preach and sing again. Communion is thrown in on occasion.
For traditions which believe a priest, pastor or the like has special authority to teach the Bible and facilitate communion, a church service means something. But, if a church doesn’t believe that, like many mainstream and evangelical churches don’t, why bother?
It really makes you wonder what these types of church services are for? Often it’s called a worship service and structured toward that end. Worship is humans connecting to God. Us looking upward. Us praising God. Not so much God connecting to us.
But, what if a church service’s primary purpose is actually for God to connect with humans, for God to dispense his God-ness to us and as a result of said dispensing we then choose to give thanks and praise?
So, if you attend a church that focuses primarily on your worship to God instead of mediating God’s relationship to you why even go to service? You can do that yourself. You can go to nature and praise God. You can listen to Christian radio. You can find some nice Christian-folk to chat with about Bible stuff. You can read the Bible on your iPhone. If church is only about you connecting upwards to God, it’s of some use, but not a unique use.
But, I do believe a church service should focus more on connecting God to you than you to God and in doing so, it’s supremely valuable.
Here are some suggestions of how to accomplish this in a church service:
Preaching needs to contain value to service attendees that they can’t find elsewhere. Take preaching seriously and have the person preaching get a Biblical education. Have them take classes in public speaking. Train them so they do actually know more and have more resources available to them about the Bible than the average person.
Communion needs to contain value to service attendees by giving them an opportunity to participate in God’s relationship with them. Take communion (Eucharist) seriously. Whether you believe it’s just a way to remember, in transubstantiation or somewhere in between, you need to do it consistently. I’m for having it every Sunday. Why has this stopped? It’s too inconvenient? Non-believers don’t like it? Give me a break. Non-believers want to see genuineness not watered-down nonsense.
Worship needs to contain value to service attendees by allowing them time to thoughtfully respond to what God’s done for them. Take worship seriously. Think about the theology in the songs. Think about the prayers you pray. Do people have a time to reflect, to pray on their own, to meditate and overall to allow God to connect with them?
I’d love to hear your suggestions of what’s needed (or not needed) in a church service. What would make you want to go and LOVE it? Please leave your constructive suggestions in the comments.
Photo by И. Максим