What is church? What does it look like? What should it look like? These are questions that have been ruminating in my little brain over the last few months.
I have attended and worked in several different church – several different denominations – all of them in America. Some of the differences were big: eternal salvation vs losing your salvation, traditional-robed-hymn-singing vs nails-painted-rock-band, no food during Bible lessons vs mandatory food at all functions. Some of the differences were not such big deals: pews vs chairs, gymnasium vs sanctuary, minister vs pastor. But despite the differences they all had similarities. Most church services last an hour, most are on Sunday mornings, most include singing, a sermon and tithing.
Who decided all of this? Am I missing a chapter out of my Bible that details a church service? I know that we are encouraged to gather together, reminded to remember the Lord’s supper, taught to baptize and ordered to keep the Sabbath holy. Elders are described but are committees? Are seminary requirements laid out? Why isn’t small group considered “church”?
I believe that it’s important to worship, pray, learn, tithe, hold accountable, evangelize, and connect. In my experience I have seen these happen most effectively in a small group setting. There was more accountability, deeper study and authentic community. In conventional church I experienced a lot of politics, a lot of cliques, a lot of pretending – as well as worship, prayer and Bible studies. I’m not saying that church is doing it all wrong and small groups have it all right. But I have noticed that overall, smaller groups tend to be more real – more authentic than large corporate church – and that, to me, tends to lead to more spiritual growth (Bible knowledge, application, deeper prayer, heartfelt worship).
I haven’t completely fleshed all of this out – I haven’t considered all points – and I only have my own experience to draw on. So I’d like to start a dialogue with y’all. Do you attend church? A small group? Do you attend both? What are your expectations of each? Are they the same expectations? Why do you attend either/both? To which one would you invite a non-believer? Are small groups just cliques? Any and all thoughts are appreciated.