In preparation for something that I want to do at LifePoint I sent out a question into the social sphere. One of the questions that I got was one I decided to answer here on the blog.
@robalderman asked, “Ecclesiologically, how does a pastor/church justify a Sunday-centric model of worship? Is it wholly an ontological shift?”
While I’m confident that Rob already has his own opinions about this, you can read more of his stuff at http://robalderman.net/ and http://theinsurrectionist.wordpress.com/, I thought I would give my 2 cents.
To begin I can’t really answer this for all pastors or churches and I don’t suspect he meant it in that literal sense but I thought I would make that clear anyway. Okay, lets begin.
I personally don’t hold any particular day as sacred. Without getting into a history debate, most churches have embraced Sunday as “the Lord’s Day” or “the sabbath”. While I feel the evidence is clear that the actual sabbath was on Saturday, I don’t think it really matters. I take Saturday, to the best of my ability, as a sabbath but this is really a heart issue as far as I’m concerned.
Of course, the real question isn’t whether Sunday is sacred but why we insist on it being the main focus of church worship. This isn’t a biblical command and yet we hold to it like it is. Or at least we appear to.
There is no doubt that tradition plays a big part. I grew up with Sunday service being the main church event and I guess I’ve fallen in line so to speak. Tradition aside, I’m not married to it. If I thought it would be better to have it on a Tuesday afternoon, I would. It’s the gathering that is powerful, not the day.
That only deals with the day though. What about it being the centric form of worship in a particular church? First let me say that I don’t think it has to be. There is no reason the central mode of worship couldn’t be the Monday soup line, The Saturday Habitat build, or the Friday night potluck. I think this is based solely on the mission of the particular local body.
I also think what is central becomes so because it’s what gets the most attention. Leadership is an issue here but so is everyone else. In all honesty, Sunday centric worship has the best chance of being the largest communal gathering. It almost become majority rule and even leadership can’t change that. If our missions event repeatedly had more congregation participation than our Sunday morning, than it has by default become the more centric mode of worship.
I would also like to add that having a Sunday service as the main thing that happens every week does not mean that it is the only or even the most important thing. It just means it may be the biggest thing. Small groups can still be vital and service events can still be crucial.
There are so many other areas that could be covered here and I’ll leave it to the comments for the conversation to continue. Please, share your thoughts or ask further questions and I or others can respond right here.