Church?

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.

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5 responses to “Church?

  • littletiger

    Wow Andi – these are some of the things that I’ve been thinking about over the last 6 months … I have to admit that most of the authentic community that I’ve experienced previous to the last six months has been only in small/life group, but in the last 6 months or so the church we’ve started attending has a very authentic/true-faced community. I think it has a lot to do with the size – there are only about 75 people in the church – but I’ve had more real conversations – felt accepted for who I am – not what others perceive me to be – and I’ve truly experienced spiritual growth through the worship/sermons and interactions there … the neat thing is that the study we’ve been doing through the sermons almost always dove-tails into the studies we’ve been doing in small group – without meaning it to … I’m going to be thinking about this alot more … thanks for bringing this topic up.

    • chicachicken

      In reference to experiencing more authenticity and acceptance at this church… why do you think that is? Is it because of the size? Or the leadership? Or the style of church? Should churches multiply and plant new churches once they reach a certain size? I know that it’s impossible to have a formula that every church can replicate to produce “results” but are there common denominators that help produce healthy, growing churches? What are those?

  • littletiger

    You know Andi – I’m not sure why – I just know that the leadership is truly focused on being authentic – in a way I’ve never experienced before. I have a feeling that a lot of it is based on the history of this particular church – they were almost dissolved due to the church failing and the current pastor really helped breath some new life into the long-time members by encouraging them to step out in faith into the community and to welcome everyone they meet. In terms of a formula – I truly think that the health of a church depends on the health of the leadership – are they open, willing to examine their own motives – is there accountability for the pastor and the church council? Are the church members willing to step up and do what needs to be done to welcome everyone in? Also what is the method of church discipline? These are all just a small part of what makes a healthy church – but I think the most important factor is – is the church body willing to be deep in the Word and are they willing to listen to what God has to say to each of them>

    • chicachicken

      It sounds like it has more to do with the people (leadership and congregation) than it does about size, location or programs. Which brings me back around to the fact that it doesn’t matter if it’s a conventional church or a smaller group. The church is people. And how we worship and learn (etc) is about finding the right group of people to fellowship with and live along side. I think it’s crucial to make sure those people aren’t just like-minded yes-men. You need people that will challenge and stretch you, hold you accountable (<– that's a big one), discipline, and encourage you.

  • littletiger

    I agree – check out my blog – I just finished a blog on how i was stretched (whether I liked it or not) LOLLL! I’m being challenged and am growing like I haven’t in years! The best part of it – I really feel like I’m in authentic community with them and am LOVING it!!!!

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