In certain pockets of the U.S. there is a small movement happening where churches are getting away from the traditional Sunday morning service and leaning more heavily upon the institution of small groups.
In the early 2000’s a wave of churches believed that bigger was better. Technology started to boom and the church began to augment its appearance which mainly consisted of the enhancement of their entertainment value. Consequently, they valued attendance so greatly it became priority number one.
The error was in the belief that a good “show” was proof that the Holy Spirit was moving. They thought that more people in the seats indicated that they were making spiritual progress. If they could raise enough money to expand their facilities, that would equally expand the kingdom of God.
While those goals can be beneficial in a sense, they are quite often misleading. Jesus said that he would build his church in a way that the gates of hell will not be able to prevail. The church has endured all these centuries, not by the showmanship of the pastor and his choir, but by evangelism and discipleship. The kingdom of God is nothing you can build with your hands; you only need faith and righteousness.
Today, the Sunday morning service is treated like the Mecca of Christianity. It’s perceived as though it is the highest experience of our faith. If you are not in service at one specific time in the week, then you are out of touch with God. You can’t hear from him if you’re not going to church. All of this is absolutely absurd!
As I see the direction that our culture is moving, small groups are part of the church revolution that needs to happen. We must adapt to survive and for a chance to prove the relevance of the cross. Otherwise society will swiftly throw us aside like candy wrapper.
Research shows that one of the top reasons why the younger generation doesn’t like going to church is because they don’t like being lectured to, however they’d much rather be engaged in conversations. They are full of questions and concerns and would love to talk with people instead of being talked at.
Older churches have a hard time understand how to implement small groups and why they’re so important. They become idle because they aren’t sure how to sift through a myriad of processes to bring about necessary changes. Here’s the thing: we can’t get stuck on the methodology of ministry. Practices and procedures are the very things that have divided the church into 35 different denominations! So finding the right infrastructure to formulate a ministry is of little importance in the grand scheme of things.
We need to focus more who we ought to be. If we can zero-in on our hearts, then we don’t have to worry about methods. All we have to do is follow in the footsteps of the Spirit and he will make it clear of what we need to do next.
In protest against our religious proclivities, Jesus conveys the type of attitude we need to have.
“But when you give to the needy, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. Truly I tell you, they will have their reward. But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not babble on like pagans, for they think that by their many words they will be heard.”
Every aspect of our ministry and worship needs to be genuine. It should look, sound and smell like authenticity. Ministers need to worry less about congregants who grade and criticize the performances on stage. And at the same time, congregants need to focus on their own relationship with God.
When the church first started, Christians met in temples and in homes. The way that Acts 2 & 5 describe them, they were together all the time eating, fellowshipping and learning from God’s Word. The community of believers grew on a daily basis. I’ve only seen that sense of community when there’s been a tragedy where people put their differences aside and come together to help one another. It’s a beautiful thing to see.
Nothing brings people together like having a passion for the same thing. God’s people need to find that passion again. We shouldn’t be coming together because it’s tradition and certainly not because our tithing obligates us. The only reason that we need to have is that we are absolutely crazy about the gospel of Jesus Christ and its unfathomable power.
That “power” was explosive in the apostle’s era. Back then, they were doing miracles on a daily basis. It was incredible! It helped them establish the authority they needed to preach and teach the messages of God.
In a very similar way today, God is still doing amazing things. The unsaved need to see God’s power. First, they need to see godliness in our everyday lives. Second, through intense prayer, we can unleash healings, freedom and peace upon those who believe. That is what the authenticity of our faith can produce.
We should be like moths gathering around the flame of God. There is only one flame—one truth, one path and one Lord. When our faith is genuine, it doesn’t matter that we come together with people who are of a different race, age or denomination. It doesn’t matter if we’re sharing this passion with 2 people or 200 people, on a Tuesday or on a Saturday.
Imagine a body of hungry believers that met randomly. They would get together whenever they felt like it to sing, dance and dive into the Word. They met in homes and in parks. Praises would break out in restaurants all over the city. When they prayed, people chose the path of righteousness and others were set free from demons. The truth in them was solid. Their love for one another was evident.
The way that we do church now, is more confining to the Spirit than it is liberating. If you’re a true believer and you’re reading this, then the responsibility falls upon you. It is your choice to actively spread the flame of God. Forget about going to church; be the church.