How long should a church service be? Question 2

30 06 2011

The last several weeks we’ve been looking at the question “How long should a church service be?”  To get caught up to speed CLICK HERE.  Again, we are looking at the regular meeting of the local church that should be happening at least once every Lord’s Day (Sunday). 

Today we are looking at the question “What are church services for?”  We really won’t be getting into the “elements” of the service but rather just discuss the purpose of a regular gathering of Believers.  1st, let’s look at what Sundays are NOT for:

1. Entertainment: You are not the spectator.  The service will not be tailored to your specifications.  Hopefully though, many things will be “your preference”  although some things you may in humility need to count others as more significant. (see Phil. 2:1-11)

2. Country Club:  This is not an “out of college” fraternity or sorority.  It’s not the place we come to in order to socialize and make new friends or political alliances.  Yes, there will be some elements of “socializing” going on, but much more of that should be going on the rest of the week.

3. The God clinic:  It’s not the place you come to get your “shot” of God that should last you the rest of the week!

Previously, I’ve already discussed the question “Do I have to go to church to be a Christian?” Suffice it to say that attending regularly is something Christians should do, should want to do, and need to do.

I believe the Bible is clear that the two major purposes of the weekly gathering of believers are: 1. The Corporate Worship of God and 2. The Edification of Believers

1. The Corporate Worship of God: I say “corporate” worship of God because of course Sunday is not the only day we Worship the Lord!  It is however, usually the only day of the week the whole local Body comes together to worship God.  Jesus says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (see Mark 12:28-30).  I often hear Brothers and Sisters in Christ say “God is my #1 priority”.  Yet, some of these same people miss the regular gathering of the church for trivial matters.  How are we saying that God is our 1st priority if we miss gathering with the local body for something more important?  This is inconsistent.  Hebrews 10:25 is a command from Scripture.  Scripture is the command of God.  Disobeying Scripture is disobeying God.  “If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15).

2. The Edification of Believers:  The synonym I’ll use for “Edification” is “building up”.  Again, just like Corporate Worship, we can’t undergo corporate edification without regularly gathering with the local body. Paul says “let all things be done for building up” (1 Cor. 14:26). Does this mean everything has to be “positive” and “encouraging”? Certainly not, but it does mean everything must be done in truth with love (cf. Eph. 4:15).  I don’t want to go too much into the “elements” necessary to fulfill these purposes (which we will cover next week) but here I must mention that the only thing that will truly build us up is the Holy Spirit using the Word.  This means we sing the Word, we pray the Word, we preach the Word, and we live the Word.  I think if i were to use another term besides “edification” I might use “discipline”.  Sundays are part of the “discipline” of the Believer.  Now, this normally carries a negative connotation, but here we are talking about the formative discipline of Believers whereby they are “discipled” through the ministry of the Word.

So, in summary up to this point we’ve established that the “church service” is for Believers, and that it’s purpose is for Believers to corporately worship God and to edify one another.  Next week we’ll look at what elements must be present in our services to fulfill these purposes.