Largely because we humans are creatures of habit, we really value what we regularly do. And, that is even more evident regarding what we do on Sunday morning at church and how we do it. It is a curious thing to me that many people will vigorously defend a particular way of doing something on Sunday morning in church with much greater energy than they will defend the resurrection of Jesus. I remember well when the largest church of Christ in America, The Hills Church, in North Richland Hills, Texas, announced their intention to add a second service on Sunday morning where musical instruments would be employed. The level of condemnation by other churches and “brothers” was at a high pitch.
Here are some of my observations.
First, the Bible says very little about our gatherings. We meet on the first day of the week, Sunday, because that is when certain groups of believers met in the first century. The Bible doesn’t say we must meet then, or Sunday night, or Wednesday night. It just does not address meeting times for Christian assemblies. It is clear in the Bible that we are to meet together but there are few details. There is nothing that clearly addresses precisely what we must do when we meet together. So, we try to do what we think the early church did. And, we can soon learn from observation that opinions about what the early church did is very subjective. There is no “pattern” for a “worship service”. No such thing exists in your Bible.
Should we have a morning prayer? How many songs should we sing? Should we use instruments or not? Should we have a song leader or more than one song leader. Should we have soloists? Should we have a choir? Should we have communion every week? Should we have it first or near the end of our time together? Who can pass out the trays of bread and juice? Should the preacher wear a tie or dress more casual? All of these questions are really up to individual congregations. The Bible doesn’t mandate any of these things or how we do them.
Here is the danger. If we get so caught up in doing things a certain way so that “method” has as much weight in our church as Biblical truth we can get in very serious trouble.
A church that over values “method” will evolve into a church who’s message becomes “method” rather than the gospel. It has happened to many churches, many church of Christ churches. We must never allow “method” to become our “message”.
Our Christ given “mission” demands an unfettered “message” about the saving life and work of Jesus Christ for sinners. Our “message” should never be about us or what we do as assembled believers. We must keep the main thing the main thing!
Times change and time changes us. This is not 1957. Think of all the technology that is now being used to further the gospel than in the 50’s. Most of it was not even a dream then. We dress differently, our buildings are different, we worship differently, and that’s OK. But, our biblical message to ourselves and to the world has not changed one tiny bit. Jesus saves, Jesus saves. We tell the story of Jesus near and far, we hold Him alone as our only hope for this life and after.
I suppose we are far more concerned about our methodology in our Sunday gatherings than God is. We have said far more about it than He has. Take a deep breath and relax. Love God, love one another, and be nice. “Different” is not a dirty word.