Alan over at Assembling of the Church has become one of my favorite places to go and spend 5 minutes as I sip my morning coffee. In a recent post he asked the following question:
What if we met to edify one another ?
I think that it is a great question and a question that we do not put much thought into. As churches, I wish that we would spend more time in that area. Alan through our comments on the post asked if I would go more in-depth about the elements that I would love to see in a gathering. Thus, this post. I absolutely love our church, where we are going and what we are doing THUS this is not a "negative" post about how we are doing church.
I, as Alan, think that we need to be a place where edification occurs. I also believe that we could do this in the midst of our regular gathering (church worship). YES, we would have to make changes but I believe that these changes would help us grow us individuals and as a body of believers and it would encourage us to be more of whom God has created to be and *GASP* we may make a bigger impact on the Kingdom of God.
So, my dream of the gathering .....
A Time of Gathering
Individuals and family would enter into the "space" with music playing. The music would help create a "laid-back" approach and invite members into fellowship. The "space" would be flexible with chairs, couches and tables for people to relax and have the opportunity to have conversations.
Introduction to the Theme for the Day
As the music fades, a leader would get up and announce what the theme of the day will be. In the introduction of the theme, there may be a synopsis of the topic, cultural relevance, a poem or a scripture reading.
I think at times that we do not listen to the voice of God through Scriptures. I think that it is vital that we create an opportunity where the Scripture is read and we have time to meditate / reflect / listen to the words being spoken to us. We may even use the Scripture reading time as a time for Lection Divina.
For myself, these would include baptism and communion. I know that there are individuals who differ over the terminology and some that believe there are more than 2 that should be recognized. For us, though, we would have a time to connect to God through baptism and communion (Eucharist). I think that these are vital for the gathering. I would not call it a "sacrament" but I would also like to have a time for annointing of the sick (some believe this is a sacrament). These elements (or sacraments) are important for community to connect with one another and God.
One of the things that I would want to see is a time in the gathering for individuals and groups to share about what is going on in their lives and where they have seen the "Kingdom of God" at work in the community life throuhout the week.
- An individual may share about their Meals on Wheels route
- A small group may share about their work on the Habitat House
- An individual may share about their mentoring in the school
- etc .. etc ..
I think that it is vital for us to share where we are seeing god working and the connections and differences that we are making in the community. Remember, this comes from my belief that we are to TRANSFORM the community.
We will have a time for a message. the message may differ each week (the mode). The thrust of this would be the following: challenge of what we are learning/sharing (weekly theme) to what is happening in the community and how we can be the hands and feet of Christ this week.
We would have board in the "space" where all celebrations/prayers of group and individuals are at in their journey and what their dreams / aspirations are. This would be a place for prayer / thanksgiving / encouragement for the work of the Kingdom of God to occur.
Food, Food and more Food. I think by having a meal as a group is essential. I think that it opens up lines of communication. I think that it provides time for questions and answers. the conversations around the meal can include the theme, what spoke to them today and MORE IMPORTANTLY .... members can apply Ephesians 4:29 (build one another up with your words). As we are eating, we can encourage the work individuals are doing / attempting face-face.
I think that there is something special when we connect to God through our mind, body and spirit. Thus, I would love to incorporate this as part of our worship services. There are quite a few resources out there. I would suggest this book. by Doug Pagitt. These prayers can help us focus.
In closing, we give individuals encouragement / building up / prayer for individuals and groups to have a "successful" week in the community
Thoughts on Edify
To edify means to build up, to strengthen, to encourage. It is to help the members of the church grow spiritually. What are some of the things that edify? God's Word, fellowship, engaging in worship, helping one another, good works, and love.
Acts 9:31; Romans 14:19; 1 Corinthians 8:1; 14:26; 2 Corinthians 12:19 and Ephesians 4:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
Where The Church Is At
I think that alot of people come to the gathering and sit. they are in the "space" for an hour and then get up and leave. There is no connection, there is no challenge, there is not direct encouragemt and there is no place for them to receive edification.
I think alot of gatherings may need to be "tweaked" to get back to where God desires for us. Maybe, my dream is off the mark ......