Lord I Don’t Like Sundays

Albert Bogle August 12, 2016 0 0
Lord I Don’t Like Sundays

We know it’s not working

It’s not an easy thing for regular church attenders to grasp a different way of going about being church. But many of them who attend on a Sunday wish it could be a lot different. We have inherited patterns and ideas of worship that we know are no longer working. The same applies to those members who populate the central councils of the church. Most are also aware of the short comings of our committee structure and our inability to catch the mood of the moment and make good decisions that are Kingdom centred.

Einstein once said a definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

Too often the above definition best describes our church decisions. We have brought about unions and readjustments, hoping they will succeed, yet knowing every union loses members, and called the process re-appraisal for mission. We have publicly stated that our focus is on the local church, endorsing the work of Church Without Walls, while failing to create the correct balance between the local congregations and the central councils of the church. We have restructured the central committees of the church at least twice in my ministry without bringing about a reformation of the church at presbytery and local level.

Breaking the Mould 

How can we begin to break out of the mould? Could it be we need to develop a theology of imagination and perception and expectation?  Do we need to encourage the prophetic voices to speak?  Should we be looking to those with the gifts of discernment among us? My fear is that unless we listen to these voices the established church as we know it will no longer be fulfilling its obligation to take the ordinances of religion to all the people of Scotland and the commission will be given to others. Perhaps the reformation should begin within the local congregation.

A few years ago I heard of a congregation that stopped meeting on a Sunday evening for evening worship as they knew it. Instead they met a little earlier prepared food and took it to the homeless people who were living in the downtown area of their city. They shared their food, sang a few hymns and read from the scripture; their visit was well received. When they came back it was hard to get a word in edge ways; everyone had a story to tell about the new way they had worshipped that evening. They had increased their time of worship by an extra three hours and the congregation had more than doubled.

If asked to think of Church extending much further than an organised association of people, simply focused around a building and a service on a Sunday, many will have no imagination to think in a new way. However asked to try something completely different and challenging the result might be more positive than we imagine.

Church Means Jesus At The Centre

The meaning of a Christian Church or Kirk is really about a community of people focused and living in communion with Jesus. When we think of church from that perspective we begin to understand the possibilities of Sanctuary First as a nurturing resource and community for those who have left the buildings and committee structures far behind but not the church.

How Can We Reach Our Target Audience

The question we who are involved with Sanctuary First need to answer is: how can we make contact with the thousands of people in Scotland (and indeed beyond) who have given up on Church attendance but still wish to be part of a Christian community?  Perhaps our fellowship here on the web will grow naturally and organically. Each one of us letting another person who might benefit know about the site and the things we are trying to achieve. Another way is to become proactive, missional in our intent to serve all who are in any kind of need. To do so we require the support and encouragement and partnership of our existing parish congregations. I’d love to hear from those congregation who would be willing to help us discover what such a partnership might look like. If this interests you please be in touch.

Next month we aim to try something completely different. We have booked the Acoustic Cafe in Falkirk from 7pm-9pm and during this time we aim to stream out a Live Sanctuary First event. We hope that perhaps some of our subscribers might visit us on one of these occasions. It would be an opportunity to meet with the team and bring a friend who has given up on church but not God. There will be live music, lively discussion and food will be available.