How I Think About and Approach Our Church Services
Continued from Part 2
The key text for my thoughts regarding church comes from Colossians 2:2,3 – “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Last time I mentioned that each service must be UPLIFTING – this is drawn from the Apostle Paul’s purpose that the church be “encouraged in heart”. Now, we read on in the text to discover our next value:
Second Value: Each service must become UNIFYING – “united in love”
It is always a mystery to me as to how hundreds of people can gather under one roof for 90 or so minutes and experience such a deep level of community on a weekly basis. This is not always the case and often one must get plugged into a small group to experience deep unifying fellowship with other. Regardless, one of my goals for each church service is to develop unity through the Spirit.
Unity is a word that has been overused and misunderstood. It has been reduced to the ‘warm fuzzies” and at times abused in the pursuit of eradication of distinctives. It is possible, I believe, for many individuals with many different compositions to move in unity by the Spirit without losing their uniqueness.
Our hands are the key to unity. We must be willing to loosen our grasp and open our hands to “drop” our sometimes exclusive preferences. This is important so that we are able to “embrace” the potential of the collective resource of others. This can be facilitated by intentionally asking folks to take the hand of the people to the right and left of them in prayerful response or to turn into groups of 3 or 4 for the purpose of prayerful ministry. These are practical displays of the inward work of unity. Of course, true biblical unity will take time and focused commitment, but that ought not discourage us from aiding this reality in various ways throughout any given service.
I have discovered that nothing encourages unity like Fellowship. Fellowship is one of the priorities that becomes a focus as I approach each church service. This can be released in simple ways such as an intentional greeting time, a gathering place for visitors, the provision of refreshments and prayer circles.
Each of these tools must be communicated with purpose. Fellowship ought not be a 6-minute buffer for latecomers. Nor should it be relegated to the last moments of the service for those that are willing to stay around a bit longer. Fellowship needs to be integrated into the fiber of the entire service, and certainly have a predominant role in small groups, bible studies, gatherings and miscellaneous events.
Part 4 continues next week