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Posts Tagged ‘corporate worship’

Paul writes to the elders who “direct the affairs of the church” and I can’t help but wonder, what is this church? Many have written about the church over the centuries and it continues to morph. Today, some are big business while others gather in a private home. What is it for me? You?

I Timothy 5:17
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.

There is something about the corporateness of “church” that appeals to me. If I had the time, I’d look up the scripture references to gathering together, supporting one another, and building unity. But for now, I’ll just say, I know, in my heart, that “koinonia” is important.

There is a difference between Church (capital “C”), the greater Body of Christ throughout the world and the sub-unit of the Body, also called church (small “c”). In some cases, those sub-units have become silos and have built walls between their brands of corporate worship and the practices of other groups. They may even worship the same God but too many become suspicious if activities and terminology don’t resonate with their own.

Is church merely a place to worship together? Or is it just a corporate agreement that we share the same God? Is it a family? Or is it better than family? Is it accidental or intentional?

Some will glibly say the church is the people and not the building. And yet, they don’t know the person sitting next to them.

Mike and I are part of the launch of a new church in Havre de Grace called Restore Church. What will that look like? How will it be different, or will it? What does it mean to “do church?” Will we be able to know one another? Will we achieve true koinonia?

Will we get caught up in the government of church or the “affairs of the church” and lose the essence?

There is so much talk about church planting, but what are we planting? Are we putting down roots? Are we nurturing ourselves and others?

For the past twenty years, we have been at the same church, a wonderful mass of people, and yet we felt it was time to move on to experience something else. There was no anger, no complaints, not really, just a languishing feeling. My fear is that it simply comes with my age. Am I simply tired of church in its most traditional sense? What is it I want to experience now?

I have a lot of questions but few answers today. But I know this, it’s important to ask and to seek. It’s important for Spirit to lead.

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Paul wrote letters to the various churches and places he visited. Sometimes he wrote admonishments and sometimes encouragement, but in all cases, he wrote because of his love for those who shared in his faith, who believed what he believed, that Jesus was the Christ.

Colossians 1:1-2a
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse . . .

I can almost imagine what it must have been like. Many did not know how to read in those ancient days and so the letters were read aloud. They were a corporate experience. I can imagine a letter was read once initially and then, again and again, more slowly. I can imagine those gathered there talked about what they heard, what they understood, and what they didn’t understand.

What would it have been like if it was my name mentioned specifically? What would that be like?

In some ways, a sermon could be like one of these letters. Unfortunately, we have moved away from corporate discussion of what is shared from the pulpit. The sizes of congregations and traditions over the years prevent echoes to the sermons or questions of the speakers. There is an inherent assumption that the sermon is somehow God-breathed truth and therefore beyond reproach.

Either the sermon is a typed out set piece that has no wiggle room or it’s a spontaneous and often repetitious “inspiration” to a few notes.

That’s not to say that sermons aren’t anointed at times and a truth or phrase or even a just a word, hits deeply in the heart. But there’s something wrong if people are falling asleep in the pews. There’s something wrong if people don’t want to discuss the message.

What is this to me? I don’t really know. I just want to be part of the love letters and I want a kind of corporate experience that allows for “permission to speak freely.” (Also the title of a new book by Anne Jackson.)

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