Monday, September 08, 2008

What's the point of our Sunday meeting?

"There is an important difference, it seems to me, between running a Christian gathering whose focus is on evangelizing the outsider, and running a Christian gathering that is welcoming and intelligible for the outsider, but where the focus is on fellowship with Christ, in speaking, hearing and responding to his word." 
(Tony Payne)

Our church has been chewing over Mark Driscoll's challenges to be a missional church recently.  But what does it mean for us? Certainly it effects the way we should be livinng when we're scattered. What about when we gather? Driscoll speaks of being seeker-sensible in our meetings, which Payne notes above - welcoming and intelligible. I wonder if it changes the way we preach? Same gospel for Christian and non-Christian.. but delivery might need to be different.

Even after 11 years as a Christian I still get narked when preachers say 'we all know the story of...' or 'remember the story of...' - what about the new Christian who (understandably) has never read the Bible. Or the person who isn't a Christian. Talk about saying stuff that explicitly excludes people by assuming everyone is a Christian and has been since they were a child. Seeker sensible means not taking that for granted.

We have a real strength in our church meetings that when someone prays/sings in tongues we always wait for an interpretation, and then one of the elders always explains what's just happened in a very anti-hype kind of way. That's helpfully seeker sensible, but we could probably do with a bit more of that in the way we run our meetings and do our preaching and our notices. If I went into the bookmakers just down the road from our house I'd be totally lost for what do do, would be nice if that wasn't the case in the alien environment of a church meeting, that ought to be the happiest place on earth.

If we assume everyone in the room has been a Christian for decades then that's a sad statement about our gatherings. If we assume that there are people in the room who aren't Christians we're moving in the right direction. Just as we need to assume that there are people who sin in all kinds of ways - Christian and otherwise. I love the church because it's an assembly where anyone can be welcome.