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Church: Preaching without Community

I am reading the Great Giveaway right now by David Fitch, and I am loving this book. He is a very articulate writer and through his book explains how the evangelical church has given away itself, its practices and its way of showing itself to consumerism and culture surrounding them. He raises numerous great points and defends them well along with giving advice on how we can get back on track. I’m looking forward to hearing him speak at the FRWY in May.

In his chapter on worship he makes observation that church services are always ‘sermon-focused’ and how that should change. He also pointed out how communion went from being a vital part of the church to merely a once a month practice.

This got me thinking. It’s amazing how we’ve given so much power to the preacher on the stage. It’s also amazing how we’ve removed so much power from the community. I’m not saying that it should be all community or abandon all preaching, but we’ve obviously lost the balance. Communion is one of the best ways to build and celebrate community that the church has. It is built on the very actions and words of Christ and took place amongst friends and family in the middle of one of the most important and intimate meals that the Jewish tradition had.

I think that it would be a good thing for every Sunday (or whatever day you wish) the entire church comes together for a meal and communion. Maybe this could take the place of our ‘regular’ service one a month. Maybe it could follow every single service. It could be set up however one wanted. Whether it be potluck or people take turns cooking. Encourage people to talk about the message. Encourage people to relax and enjoy themselves in a community that loves them. Communion needs to be more community based and not so individualistic. One person is not the body of Christ; all of us together are.

When we put so much emphasis on the stage to one person (especially when it’s the same person over and over again) and we don’t as a community work through what they teach we are doing ourselves a disservice. No wonder we are all so afraid of heresy being taught from the pulpit. It’s because we have all be trained to accept whatever is said from there instead of discerning it as a community. We barely have a chance to discern it as a community. We all go home to our own houses or out for dinner with ourselves at Swiss Chalet (where half the church is going anyway) and we don’t come together as a community.

If I could make one suggestion to change how a church functions on a repetitive basis I would say that the church would after every single service eat together as a community and to communion. However that works for the church is up to them. It sounds like a lot of work at first, every single Sunday? I think though it’s worth it. If we maybe spent a little less time worrying about the powerpoint, announcements and our newspaper ads maybe we could put that work into setting up weekly lunches for the community where all are welcome and all participate.

One Comment

  • Hi Nathan,

    We have a meal with our service every week. Generally the ‘service’ goes from 5.00pm, with dinner from around 6.15, although we sometimes integrate the service and the meal. In our view the meal is the communion, although our success in communicating this hasn’t always been great.

    An added advantage (at least in our culture – Australia) is that meeting at this time enables us to keep our service multi-generational.

    Glad to hear others are thinking the same way.

    Tim

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