The Future of the Churches of Christ: Ancient-Future Assembly, Part 5

God is a creative being. Indeed, he first introduces himself to readers of the Bible as the Creator.

One of God’s redemptive purposes is to restore mankind to the image of God — a creative image.

And yet the modern church is often about as uncreative as you can imagine. Even instrumental churches are bad to fill out the order of worship by rote — pick a couple of songs, fill in a topical sermon, go with it.

It’s not that routine is bad. Or that tradition is bad. It’s just that our attention — or inattention — shows the importance of the assembly to our tradition. And an absence of creativity evidences our theology.

Our theology could be that the assembly is unimportant. Or that it must be done in just this way or no other. Or that we don’t really have time to be thoughtful.

On the other hand, creativity can never be the purpose of the assembly. If all we’re doing is showing off the genius of our planners, then the service is about the planners, not the Creator.

And our creativity has to be bounded by a solid theology. There are countless clever and cool things that we might do, but only some will actually present the gospel in a way that communicates to those present.

Creative planning also has to be bounded by a refusal to be self-indulgent or inconsiderate of the audience. Mark Twain’s guidance on how to write apply equally well to planning the assembly:

You need not expect to get your book right the first time. Go to work and revamp or rewrite it. God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God’s adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by.
– Letter to Orion Clemens, 23 March 1878

The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say.
Mark Twain’s Notebook, 1902-1903

To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself. … Anybody can have ideas — the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.
– Letter to Emeline Beach, 10 Feb 1868

Speaking as a writer — a somewhat creative pursuit in itself — some (and not nearly enough) of my favorite words have been cut and thrown on the floor in pursuit of brevity. Indeed, I especially love this quote from Twain —

I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.

With those boundaries in mind, imagine all the different ways an assembly might be arranged. Get with some friends and try to quickly list 50 different approaches. Read the Early Church Fathers (Robert E. Webber’s Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative will point you to some excellent examples). Study Calvin’s approach. Compare how other traditions have structured their worship over the centuries.

How well do these structures serve their purposes? Are they theologically sound? Do they tell the Story in a way the church can hear and understand?

Visit other churches in town. Which assemblies leave the membership in reverence and awe of God Almighty?

Take notes. Share ideas with friends.

And don’t dump every good idea into a single service. Rather, treat creative ideas like garlic or pepper. A little bit makes the meal much better. Too much, and you’ve ruined the meal. Let the church enjoy the entrée.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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44 Responses to The Future of the Churches of Christ: Ancient-Future Assembly, Part 5

  1. laymond says:

    Jay said, “And don’t dump every good idea into a single service. Rather, treat creative ideas like garlic or pepper. A little bit makes the meal much better. Too much, and you’ve ruined the meal. Let the church enjoy the entrée.”

    I say treat it more like salt, pepper and garlic only ruins the meal, salt taken in large proportions will KILL YOU.

  2. Charles McLean says:

    As long as we are still worried about what is “authorized” and what is not, creativity will be a sin. Unless, of course, it’s something we like, in which case it’s an expedient.

  3. laymond says:

    Alexander writes; in assembly part 4 ” What will never work and never be saitsfying: If we want to keep our church system and try to “renovate” it by crafting some ancient features to it. This will always be anachronistic and weird; like each one may stand up and share a word in an assembly of 2000. That’s not the setting in which “one anothering” is applicable.”

    Jay writes in part 5 “And yet the modern church is often about as uncreative as you can imagine”

    Are you kidding me?

    Alex in part 4 “Radically spoken: Unless we tear down or sell our buildings and downsize dramatically we will never ever restore the New Testament church fully. And this leaves us dissatisfied, yearning for authentic church life, while still holding fast to a system that would not allow it.”

    And we expect to become unified, we can’t even agree on what is going on in the building, much less so in our hearts and minds. And people accuse me of being outside the borders. I don’t believe there are borders anymore, they have been so stretched they have popped. I have written the CoC would not exist within the next fifty years, I have changed my mind, I can’t find it NOW, and believe me I have looked.

  4. Charles McLean says:

    Laymond complains that his old CoC borders have stretched so much that they have popped. In a way, I think he is partially correct. The 1940’s tribe which once proudly proclaimed that “we are the only ones going to heaven” has shriveled. The debaters against other believers have all but retired. Damning all but “our four and no more” is now practiced in fewer and fewer CoC’s. Castigating the divorced from the pulpit as “adulterers” is thankfully less common. Shunning any good work done in our community by anyone but our own congregation is a practice that is losing favor among most CoC’s.

    I just happen to think this is a good thing, not a bad thing.

    But, take heart, there are still enclaves of religious exclusionism and judgment and condemnation and self-righteousness out there. If one wishes to join one, they are not THAT hard to find. (I can find three within five minutes of my house.) If they’ll take you, that is. Laymond, I suspect your theology as stated on this forum would get you burned or banned in even the most retrograde of CoC’s. The deity of Christ, at least, is still alive and well in every one I know of.

  5. Here is a creativity exercise that may be appropriate:

    Take a pencil and paper (or a keyboard and computer). In writing, describe the worst possible assembly you can imagine.

    When finished, think a little.

  6. eric says:

    The book Celtic Way of Evangelism is a great resource on this topic. It describes the ministry of Saint Patrick and why it was so effective where others failed. It also is related in a way to how Paul reached out too gentiles by using the unknown God or something they were familiar with. Anyway Saint Patrick’s approach to a land with an oral tradition of passing on history and teaching through story telling and acting and singing was to share Christ and the scriptures in that same way. Until then the Church of the time used a more hellenistic approach making others learn latin and other similar difficult obstacles. We sometimes create an atmosphere somewhat hard to approach for the average non Christian or even young people who may express themselves differently and more creatively. Sometimes we have placed boundaries where we could have better served God by adapting or innovating.

  7. eric says:

    P.S. Maybe we should ask the youth group or college group to plan a service and take off the restraints and see what happens.

  8. Doug says:

    The lack of creativity in Assemblies is a more a matter of laziness than anything else. Every winter, I return to my CofC home and while I love seeing my brothers and sisters again, I am dismayed by the prospect of going from an Assembly that is alive with creativity and life to one that has no creatvity and is pretty much dead. I think there is a master bulletin and once a week the hymn number, who is doing the communion meditation and the announcements are updated and brothers and sisters, we’re ready to roll for another week. It is clear that in my wintertime church the Assembly is very, very important and it is treated that way. It is almost never the same routine and the whole Assembly is designed to accomplish a goal and the results are usually very good. It’s not perfect… and no, I don’t always like the music or every detail of the assembly but I usually leave feeling like I have worshipped and I have learned and I have enjoyed God and His people. I never leave feeling like I have been subjected to boredom. I notice the attention to details and I appreciate everyone who works out these details in advance so that worship can be worshipful.

  9. laymond says:

    “I usually leave feeling like I have worshipped”
    Doug can you expound on just how you feel, when you have worshipped
    Do you feel exhilarated, very happy, animated, or elated? or do you feel subdued, humbled to have been in the presents of God. just wondering.
    I was under the impression we were to worship God continually. I have witnessed a few churches that considered having a party, worshiping.

  10. If we’re thinking outside our box, then we may note that “worship leader” and “sermon” aren’t found in the New Testament.

    How many fingers do you need to count the Christians you personally know who have written a song of praise? Is the low number because so few that you know write songs, or because you haven’t asked to hear them? If you haven’t shared your own song, what is holdng you back?

  11. laymond says:

    Danny, I stand ready to hear yours.

  12. Jay Wrote

    It’s not that routine is bad. Or that tradition is bad. It’s just that our attention — or inattention — shows the importance of the assembly to our tradition. And an absence of creativity evidences our theology.

    Is creativity or lack of enthusiasm for worship the missing ingredient here? I believe the latter leads to the former.

    David could not be accused of “inattention,” “lacking creativity,” or “unenthusiastic” because he was focused on praising God.

    David Wrote –
    I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name forever and ever.
    Every day I will praise you and extol your name forever and ever.
    Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.
    One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.

    They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
    Psalm 145:1-4, 7

    Celebrating God has been constantly threatened with redefinition.

    I believe it was Philo who called Israel’s lamentations—hymns of praise. Church fathers called psalms—a practice of infant Israel—unnecessary for a mature church. Subsequently that which is not praise has been called praise; and celebration—that which is not celebration. But, who rejoices sadly? Who rejoices silently or covertly?

    The essentials of joyful worship are: love for God, surrender to His will, joy of the Lord, gratitude to God, and a resolve to express that love, surrender, joy and gratitude in whatever form your faith allows.

    David, whom God called: a man “after My heart,” was the quintessential example of these. He approached worship with anticipation: “When can I go and meet with God,” he asked. He was not discussing a heavenly encounter with God; he was referring to Temple worship. He wrote:

    My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Psalm 84:2

    “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD,” he wrote.
    In Psalm 63:1–5 he noted:

    O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
    I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
    Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
    I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
    My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

    And in Psalms 42:1-2 he said:

    As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

    Today we struggle with worship because we have failed to realize that worship begins in the heart. We can conclude that David was an overzealous, outlandish, “beast” that was driven by his “irrational” emotions; but what we see in David, was compelled by his view of God’s greatness. And as far as David was concerned, generations that followed him would see God’s greatness and be motivated to rejoice as he did.

    Joy is the foundation of praise. Where there is no joy, there is no rejoicing; hence, no sound of rejoicing.

    What we call solemn is often the product of joylessness.
    A festive (often loud) gathering is the natural consequence of joyful, grateful hearts being merged together for a time of praise.

    David wrote:

    These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. (Psalm 42:4)

    As joy is the foundation of praise, so the sound of rejoicing is maintained by joyful, grateful hearts.

    The Apostle Paul instructed the church to, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” For emphasis he added, “I will say it again: Rejoice!”
    Sing with gratitude in their hearts to God he exhorted.

    In an address to his disciples, Jesus said, “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).

    Paul, thrilled by the news of the new Colossian believers, wrote:
    May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while JOYFULLY giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. Colossians 1:11–12 (NRSV)

    “Be joyful always,” (1 Thessalonians 5:16) he wrote.

    “Be joyful in hope.” (Romans 12:12)

    Joyful even in persecution, said Jesus; “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy” .

    Israel’s festive throng ended when “joy was gone from their hearts?” (Lamentations 5:14-16)

    With joy gone, their rejoicing was displaced by mourning.

    The same happens with us.

  13. Charles McLean says:

    Once we get stuck in a particular track (read “rut”) it is hard not only to escape it, but even to know it exists. Years ago, I was helping younger men to learn to prepare and produce brief lessons. I got in trouble with the elders of my congregation when I told these teens, “The first rule is to have something to say. If you find you have nothing significant to say, that’s not bad. But taking up twenty minutes of our time letting us find that out IS bad. If you have nothing to say, simply say so and we will move on with the service.” The elders were irritated because they thought I was being flip, then became horrified when they found out I was being serious.

    Perhaps a single Sunday could break this whole topic wide open. Just send out a notice cancelling the next episode of The Assembly At Sunday Morning because there is nothing new or significant to report, and that nothing is planned for this Sunday that we did not do the exact same way LAST Sunday. Include a DVD of last Sunday’s meeting for those who want to view it.

    Just once, I’d like to hear a preacher get into the pulpit and say, “Listen, it’s been a tough week for me. I just don’t have any fresh bread for you today. I can rerun one of my better sermons from my greatest hits collection or I can just wing it for thirty minutes exegetically. But I think we’d all be better off if I would just sit down and we can pray or sing or fellowship instead.”

    I do not know a single experienced preacher who has not had the experience of stepping into the pulpit with no fire in his belly, no current word from the Lord and no real anointing. And I don’t know of a single one who didn’t go right ahead and fill up his time slot anyway.

  14. Doug says:

    Yes, Laymond I could expound on how I feel after meaningful worship but since I know that you have no real interest in knowing, I won’t. No more tar-babies for me on this blog.

  15. laymond says:

    You are right Doug, I already know what you were talking about, and I don’t blame you for not getting stuck on another unexplainable .subject.
    Worship is intended for the glory of God, not the gratification of the worshiper.

  16. Monty says:

    Charles-“Just once, I’d like to hear a preacher get into the pulpit and say, “Listen, it’s been a tough week for me. I just don’t have any fresh bread for you today. ”

    I heard of a well known minister who did that. He preached(s) in a progressive congregation and he was sympathized with by the church. A friend of mine who preaches and was visiting there said, “It was one of the most amazing things he had ever witnessed in an assembly(the man’s honesty and the church’s appreciation of it).

    IMO in most places that would be seen as laziness and not tolerated. After all you can’t not have one of the 5 acts of worship. Right?

  17. Ray Downen says:

    How fine it would be if we all would read and understand Paul’s comment about our assemblies in 1 Corinthians 14:26. Not only does he there not speak of an “order of worship,” neither he nor any other apostle ever speaks of such an event. Why do we not want to follow apostolic patterns for our assemblies? Do we know more than they did?

  18. Charles McLean says:

    Monty, had I been there, I might just have stood and applauded. Good for them.

  19. Charles McLean says:

    Ray asked: “Do we know more than they did?”
    Should we not by now know more than they did? If, after an additional 1900 years, we have learned nothing beyond what the believers learned in the first few decades of Christianity, where has our collective head been?

  20. Doug says:


    Worship, if done well, lifts up both the worshipper and the one being worshipped. Don’t bother proof texting me brother, because I am extracting my hand from the tar even as I type.

  21. Doug, you are correct. Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 made the same point again and again .. “so that the church may be edified” 1 Corinthians 14:5

    17 You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified (1 Corinthians 14:17)

    1 Corinthians 14: 26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

    BTW, be encouraged, the tar barbies often benefit others

  22. laymond says:

    Charles, if there is anything that bothers me more in a conversation, than when someone says ” the church fathers” were smarter than we are today.
    I don’t know what it is. They say but they were so close to those events, I say sometimes you are so close, you can’t see the forest for the trees. I would like to hear what those guys would say about the world today. hummm I agree with Charles.

  23. Doug says:

    Thank you for the encouragement. I know the value of assembling together and I can only wonder that the CofC has existed as long as it has if everyone in it thought the assembly was only one directional. It takes work and dedication to do a good worship assembly and I only fear that the CofC view of what is needed is still lacking. Most seem to think that if they can just get a really good song leader, their problem is solved. A good song leader should be a given, why would we ever praise and worship God off-key (even if we do exclude 50% of the assembly from consideration off the top, including most likely some of the some musical people)? But, that’s just the begining. If everyone involved in the Worship Assembly isn’t highly motivated and on the same page, worship won’t be what it could be and it needs to be absolutely 1st class! Don’t tell me that it doesn’t make a difference because a good Christian can still worship at a poor worship assembly. Why should they? I’ve been there when the song leader loses his place, or when the person putting the words on the big screen gets lost, or when the preacher preaches his sermon in his first 10 minutes and then keeps on talking for another 30 minutes. In these days, we need all the assistance we can get from one another and that definitely includes our time assembling together. We need to be able to look forward to the assembly and have anticipation about it.

  24. laymond says:

    Doug, and Clyde; where in scripture is worship assembly mentioned? Now I do remember where Jesus said the time will come, and is now, that we don’t need to go to a certain place to worship God. but I haven’t found what you are talking about. Please advise.

  25. Charles McLean says:

    I don’t need a place to eat, either, but there is something quite pleasant and beneficial to having dinner with my friends. I like it better than eating McNuggets off the dashboard of my car between appointments. But both situations nourish, and each is appropriate in its own place.

  26. laymond says:

    I have never heard worship, of God, compared to a box of McNuggets. Until now that is, but whatever floats your boat, you could worship God at McDonald’s, if your heard was in it.
    Worship is supposed to be pleasing to God, not the worshiper.

    “Worship, if done well, lifts up both the worshipper and the one being worshipped.”
    “if done well” ? You can worship God, or anything else without ever saying a word. Now praise, that is a different thing altogether.

  27. laymond says:

    if your heart was in it.

  28. Doug, you are welcomed brother.


    Doug used the term “worship assembly” to refer to an assembly that comes together for the purpose of worship. Are you suggesting that an assembly that comes together for worship cannot be referred to as a worship assembly? Consider 2 Chronicles 29:28; it says – “The whole assembly bowed in worship, while the singers sang and the trumpeters played. All this continued until the sacrifice of the burnt offering was completed.” If that is not a Biblical mention of a worship assembly then what is it?
    There is nothing wrong with the term.

  29. laymond says:

    The whole assembly bowed in worship.
    Doug said; “Worship, if done well” ——-.
    Clyde would you consider this worship assembly you refer to as done well, is this the example we are to follow, even if it did happen during the old covenant, and a long time, before the time Jesus was speaking of when he said “the time is now” I believe the center of that worship was burnt offering upon the altar. If you follow this example, pardon me if I don’t attend.

  30. Doug says:

    Clyde, watch out for splattering tar brother.

  31. Laymond… can worship be done “wrong?” Can it be done “in vain?” If it can be done wrong or in vain or both, why can’t it be done well?

  32. laymond says:

    “why can’t it be done well?”
    I certainly hope it can, If it pleases God I believe it is “done well”
    I just asked(in my own way) why you would reference an Old testament style of worship. surely even in “The Bahamas” the CoC doesn’t offer up burnt offerings, do they?.
    Jhn 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
    I would assume since God seeks such worship, that is the way to “do it well”

  33. Laymond, you wrote –

    I just asked (in my own way) why you would reference an Old testament style of worship?

    Brother, I cited the OT passage because what you asked was, “Where in scripture is worship assembly mentioned?” You said –

    Doug, and Clyde; “Where in scripture is worship assembly mentioned?

    I addressed your question specifically. When Jesus said, “Have you never read in the Scriptures…” (Matthew 21:42) Was he not referring to what we call the OT?

    Yes – he was.

    I addressed the question you asked. Perhaps I should have known that your question was: Where in the New Testament is worship assembly mentioned?

    May I remind you that this discussion began after I agreed with Doug’s statement: “Worship, if done well, lifts up both the worshipper and the one being worshipped.” Try to stay on point please. While I am happy to exchange ideas with those who love the Lord and the church, I have very little time and much less desire for meaningless chatter.

  34. laymond says:

    Clyde, as I recall this discussion started as the result of a question I asked of Doug, about a statement he made, that was left hanging , as for as I was concerned. Doug declined to answer specifically what he was talking about, and I commented I knew the reason why.
    Then Clyde gets involved, I am sure because he thinks he is so much more learned than the two conversants, that he can solve this immediately, and recommended a verse in the old testament, on burnt offerings, and when he was confronted with this fact, said he had no time for such nonsense. Is that about right, well I can tell you how to avoid such conversations.

  35. Charles McLean says:

    There is nothing intrinsically “wrong” with the term “worship assembly”. It is our later practice of creating from whole cloth a discrete event which we declare to be a “worship assembly”, complete with complex definitions and rules of order, that seems to prove problematic. In fact, even that would not be a problem if we could find it in our hearts to keep such tradition to ourselves and let other believers be free to follow the Spirit with both the practice and the language.

    There is nothing wrong with worship or assembly until some people make the central emphasis of these things into how everyone else is “doing it wrong”, complete with footnotes and diagrams.

  36. Charles McLean says:

    Worship should indeed lift up both God and the worshipper. That is part of the relational nature of being in Christ. That some people are uncomfortable with this idea is much more a reflection of OT worship than is Clyde’s reference. That OT concept is that worship is there to appease a rightfully-angry God and keep Him satisfied until next week. There is this unspoken idea that God is tapping his foot irritably, waiting for us to give him his due, and carefully judging every worshipful act like the East German judge grading a gymnast from Omaha. Such folks still do not feel that God likes us very much, and the most WE can expect from worship is for God not to be mad afterward about how we did it.

  37. Doug says:

    This whole discourse between Laymond, Clyde and me is a good example of why I have decided to avoid those who would turn every discussion into a “tar-baby” event. It is very apparent to me when a question is being asked in order to further understanding or to try to better understand another’s point of view but some here just ask questions to extend debate endlessly or to perhaps introduce one of their pet beliefs. I’ll not participate in that kind of discussion as it is pointless. Laymond, for example, claims that I don’t answer he questions; however, I would point out that apparently he doesn’t recognize an answer to a question when he see one. He asked “how (do) you feel, when you have worshipped”? I responded that “Worship, if done well, lifts up both the worshipper and the one being worshipped”. I thought it obvious therefore that when I have worshipped (and praised) well, I feel lifted up… closer to God and closer to Jesus. My spirit and the Spirit of God have been closely connected and I feel closer to God. I know that God doesn’t need my worship and praise but I also know that He desires and expects it so I hope and feel that somehow I have pleased God by giving Him my best worship and my best praise. I feel like being in the presence of my Christian brothers and sisters, all of us worshipping and praising God to the best of our abilities, enhances the whole experience both for us and for God. I want to feel the hair on my arm stand you as though electrified and I want to sing my very best praise to Him. I want to bow so low before God that He’ll know that I am a worm and no man and that I live only to bless His name. That’s how I feel!

  38. Laymond, your response is an example of the meaninglesss chatter to which I referred in my last post, and an example of how NOT to stay on point.

    You ask for Scripture that justifies the use of the term “Worship assembly.” I gave you one. You take issue with my presenting you with what you asked for. What are you looking for specifically? New Testament proofs that worship edifies the worshipper while praising God or a justification of the use of the term “Worship assembly?” What?

    Perhaps if you define your issue clearly, it would help you and, perhaps me, to stay on point without getting in unnecessary godless, meaningless chatter.

  39. Laymond:

    Brother,my words were strong and perhaps not chosen well. I apologize for any offense.


  40. Mark says:

    If any of you go to high church during Holy Week, you will oftentimes not hear a sermon at any of those services. In fact, the standard introduction to the Gospel and concluding responses are omitted. The Gospel stands on its own. The trial and crucifixion are merely read in their entirety (multiple chapters) to the congregation who may stand the entire time. The music does not occur and the congregation returns to singing almost in plainsong. These are some of the most moving services in the Christian year. This would shock many who have never been to one.

    This probably would not set well in the cofC to have the preacher not preach a 20 or 30 minute sermon. It would be something to see a cofC have one of these and let people actually see the minister lead a service instead of just preaching and trying to get people to come down the aisle. The lack of a sermon is attributed to the fact that nothing else can be said than what is already in the Gospel. It is merely a gathering to pray and remember.

  41. Charles McLean says:

    Perhaps one thing that keeps us from experiencing more in meetings is the traditional lack of any real variety among them. All Sunday meetings are designed to serve the same purpose, every service, every week, everywhere, forever and amen. This is the result of the doctrinally-mandated “five acts”, which milieu we wish we could outgrow, but haven’t yet. Wednesday is the same, sans communion. We might bring in the second-string leaders for the midweek meeting, but the meeting itself changes little for all that. We observe no holidays, no feasts, no grand celebrations, no somber convocations. Likewise, we have to get off the Sunday schedule to get intimate groups, or to observe seasons of fasting or prayer or praise or repentance. I would suggest that our “meeting experience” would be richer and more rewarding if we started meeting a bit more on purpose, not for the same exact purpose every single time, and for goodness’ sake, NOT because “well, it’s the first day of the week again”.

    One size does not fit all. And it need not do so. We have a much wider appreciation than our traditional box effectively contains. We love “dinner on the ground” and we like “singings”, but making next Sunday into a feast day, without the traditional five-acts-in-an-hour, escapes us. To have a Sunday morning meeting of prayer and repentance for our nation, without the songs and the sermon and the offering, could be powerful– if we could stretch our wineskin even that far.

    Our lives are not nearly so ritualistic as our religious schedule. The wider the gulf between our personal life experience and our religious habits, the less real the religious part becomes to us.

  42. Mark says:

    Charles, you are quite right. It has only been in the last decade that some cofC congregations have begun mentioning the resurrection on Easter Sunday. Some still don’t/won’t. Before that Easter was more like Good Friday (mournful) or an occasion to preach on Moses. I was given every reason as to why Easter should not be celebrated from “we don’t know when it happened, much like Christmas” to “we celebrate that every Sunday.” Good Friday was described as a “Catholic holiday.” And then the cofC wonders why she can’t even keep the children of her members.

  43. Alabama John says:

    Charles, AMEN and AMEN!!!

  44. Charles McLean says:

    I think it is funny to find me, as non-traditional fellow as you will find, extolling the benefits of what very easily becomes tradition. But there can be a great deal of value in MEANINGFUL tradition. After all, what is the Lord’s Supper but that, a tradition Jesus took from Moses and fulfilled and gave to us?

    It’s just when we allow our traditions to take on the force of divine law that we stumble. But then, fixing those things is why God gives us new generations….

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