Here is a miscellany of material that I have collected over time and what going to church is about.
The Nature of the Early Church, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1941, pp.31, 110).
[The ekklesia] was not the Jewish community over again, with a few minor differences, but was a new creation . . . . [W]hen much of his spiritual teaching was forgotten . . . the church took on more and more of the character of an ordinary society. It sought its models deliberately in the guilds and corporations of the day, and before a century had passed a Christian church was almost a replica in miniature of a Roman municipality. It had a body of officers graded like those of the city, clothed in similar vestments and bearing similar titles. The conception of a unique society, representing on earth the new order which would prevail in the Kingdom, seemed almost to have disappeared.
“The secret to Apostolic success, as I read in my old-fashioned Russian Bible, was that the Apostles were in the Word and prayer daily. So, why has the Church gone to sleep today? Because the spirit of prayer departed from churches. The people of God will get busy with anything and everything, manmade programs, this and that, but not prayer. And then the spirit of prayer is lost and therefore you will find that God’s Holy Spirit cannot work because the Lord’s hand is moved through prayer. So the people in Russia and in China believed in mighty prayers. So when they prayed, they prayed in one accord, like in chapter four of Acts. They raised their voice in one accord and prayed, “Lord, help us.”
People don’t want to cry. People want to laugh in churches. Yes. A preacher stands here and sends jokes and anecdotes from the pulpit, and people grab their stomachs and they laugh to their hearts content. And then at the end of the service they praise the Lord, “The Lord blessed us, the presence of the Lord was with us.” I’m sorry. It was the presence of the devil. Because the devil has his own comics on T.V. and all over the place. Now the devil has comics right in churches. Everybody wants to laugh. They want to have fun. They want to have laughter.
Karaoke, Okey Dokey? Bill in New Jersey.
“Karaoke doesn’t bother me in the absence of a worship leader and people capable of musical accompaniment.
I am more concerned about the choice of songs. There are many great older songs and some great contemporary songs. There are also “Jesus is my Boyfriend” songs and songs that seem to be focused on how much I love Him and would be willing to do for Him. The last one really bugs me because I know what love I have for Him is due to Him. I am such a wretched sinner and know that my love is so imperfect and so unworthy. I also know that we are all in the same state.
It is one thing to mention my love for Him in response to what He did for us. It is another to go on and on about it in the context of worship. I have trouble with that.”
How to grow your church short movie. Fill your needs. http://www.oldtruth.com/blog.cfm/id.2.pid.239
The seeker sensitive church http://www.brfwitness.org/Articles/1994v29n6.htm
“One of the current fads among the churches is the “seeker-sensitive” model of evangelism and worship. This model maintains that the church exists for the benefit of those outside its membership. “We exist to serve you” is the slogan of one church. It is hoped that, through contemporary music, professional quality drama, and short, thought-provoking messages addressing “felt needs,” unchurched people will see their need for Christ and accept Him as Saviour.”
In many modern churches, worship has descended from singing the great truths of God to music where sound, harmony and rythm dominate to bring on warm, fuzzy feelings. Dead Doctrine? Forget it! Preachers have become comedians, good story tellers and counselors, but seldom powerful proclaimers of divine truth.
“There just has to be more to it than this. I can’t stand seeing all of these people pour into here in search of connecting with God and leaving with just a little buzz of energy, some information about a topic, and less money in their pocket.”
“So much time, money, and energy went into one event where so very few lives were really transformed. So much emphasis was put on one man’s performance. So much emphasis was put on one hour a week. So much money was poured into the facility and salaries that facilitate that one hour a week. So many people didn’t know any better but to go along with the cultural “worship flow”.
“We’ve taught for years the mistaken notion that we need to go to church to fill up on the life of God. Not true! We can only fill up on God’s life through a transforming relationship with the Father through his Son. We were never meant to come to fill ourselves with church, but to live full of him and then share his life together with God’s people.”
What people think about “church”
This daring one is mine
Christians do need to meet together. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians has a lot on how people should meet together. Where believers were glorifyng God together, there was “Church”.
For three hundred years (up to the Emperor Constantine, who made Christianity the state religion – by decree!) there were no big services and no church buildings with their rows of passive pews facing the front.
Before Constantine, church was in small gatherings such as in people’s homes. 90-95% of the offerings collected were not spent on church buildings, salaries for LEADERS, administration and all the other stuff. Almost all of the offerings, if not all, went to the poor. Everybody had a job! St Paul was a tent maker. He tells everyone to get a job and not to rely on others to support them.
Christians lived a life centred in Christ and were led by His Spirit. Of course, they didn’t just rock up to “church” and do everything purely off the cuff. On the other hand, they didn’t have to sit for days to prepare a sermon (which lots of pastors do). The lived and breathed God’s word and life, so there was no need to craft an attractive sermon to shake into a life a lethargic “audience”!
This is how church was done for three hundred years before Constantine:
“When you come together, each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has another language, has an interpretation.” (1 Corinthians 14:26)
This meant that everybody in the assembly made a contribution – because they studied scripture and knew the One in whom they believed.
And the reason why they didn’t have big buildings was NOT because they were too poor to afford it.
“If we are not occupied with what is dear to God, can we really have significance as the church in our locality? For example, how occupied are we with the eternal purposes of the church that are given in Ephesians 3? If we do not know about them, how shall we give ourselves to them? If they are eternal, they must be mighty purposes. If they are that significant, how much opposed will they be by the powers of darkness? It should have us asking all kinds of questions: What does God mean by church? Is it an aggregate of individualities who are willing to come together for a few hours, but who are otherwise totally privatistic, separated, and occupied with their own narrow lives? Should we not be having the same apostolic koinonia and quality of relationship that characterized the early church where the glory of God was upon it and the power of God was expressed through it?”
Art Katz Singing and dancing in church
“Measure your success by the way in which your own youth are affected. Do not try to give them the rock beat in your choruses, hoping that somehow this will be the answer to keep them in church. They need something much deeper than the superficial equivalent to the world’s culture that they like.
Singers and dancers are not a professional caste.These are non-professional singers and dancers. They do not sing and dance because they are paid for it, nor because they have musical ability. Maybe their voices are creaky, maybe their dancing is awkward, but they cannot contain themselves. There is a joy, there is a reality, there is a worship, there is an acknowledgment of God as God that compels song and compels dance-and God loves it, not for its professional impressiveness, but for its truth.”
“Singing and dancing are ultimate expressions of body and soul, of voice and what we are giving to God out of the depths of our being because he is God. It is not something I perform out of some charismatic thing that I am cued in to do. I cannot contain myself. The springs of it requires this depth of expression. All my springs (fountains) are in You.”
Most Christians are extremely ignorant as to how the church got to where it is today and of how much existing church practice is due simply to an amassing of tradition, with little or no foundation in Scripture. Hey, fellow Christians, do you want to be biblically faithful, then tell your pastor to go get a proper job. A Pastor is no job for a good Jewish or Christian boy.
“Pick up your NT and look for this man. Show me a man in the NT who preaches to the same congregation week after week, month after month, year after year. Show me a man in the NT who is called the head of the church. Show me a man in the NT that makes the decisions for a local church. Show me a man in the NT that represents the church in the world, that blesses civic events, that marries the living and buries the dead. And if you can find that man in the NT who fits all of those descriptions, then George Barna will give you $500,000.”
The Bible makes it clear that there is a purpose for God’s people to gather together. It is encouraging, it educates us according to his will and yes, it certainly serves the purpose of reminding us of what is right and wrong according to His standards. Many of us would probably be real loose canons if we did not keep up the good habits set out in the scriptures, I’m no exception, so gathering together with like-minded individuals certainly serves to encourage one to stick to doing God’s will. If our motive for going to church is merely to appease our consciences, well that is not going to be of much benefit to anyone. We need to apply what we learn and grow in Godly wisdom, and thereby benefit ourselves and those around us. So, yes, it definitely helps us to stick to our good intentions, but it is up to us to progress beyond that starting point and and make it a progressive way of life.
Added 26 July 2010.
After church (a converted double garage) on SUNDAY! (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa), our small congregation gathered for a get-together on the lawn under a big tree to share one another’s soup that we had each brought.
I was talking to one of our congregation who had had a knee operation, whose knee had a will of it’s own, moving the leg wherever it willed it to go. I grabbed the opportune moment and leapt on to my hobby horse – regeneration. I got so into it that I fell to the ground, stretched out full length, placed my elbow on my solar plexus, and with my upturned arm, I pointed to the sky. Rigid. From my mouth issued the sermon of my life. “Dead, dead, see I am dead, and there is a flower growing out of my belly button. Now, look, there is Christ standing at my feet. ‘Come! get up!’
“See, I say, continuing my sermon, I’m stiff, can’t lift a finger. Now, see (said I slowly raising my head and bending up), Christ is pouring his life into me, he is regenerating me. Now he holds out a hand and gives me something – too wonderful for words, yet they were words. That is what Ephesians 2 and Romans 9 is all about. I believed. Why? because, God wanted it.”
I don’t die on a regular basis in church. Outside church, it is what Christianity is about.
Response from one: “It’s amazing how effective a visual sermon can be.” Agreeable (?) nods and grunts from everyone – including the pastor. I wasn’t looking at my wife, Cathy.
I’m in a congregation that doesn’t believe that “it is not to him who wills or runs, but to God who has mercy” Romans 9. But then, I hardly know anyone who does.