Lights, Camera, Action!!
Has preaching become an entertainment sport? Are church services becoming well-rehearsed media productions? With the advent of multi-site, venue options, and video reproduction, is church becoming more like to going to the movies rather than going to church?
Church has definitely changed compared to 50 years ago. Is it good? Is it bad? What will the next 50 years look like? What does God think about today’s movie theater church?
Let me first begin by saying scripture is silent on the topic of “how” to do church. There are no clear-cut instructions for a right or wrong church service and how it should look. When Scripture is silent on a topic, this often indicates there is freedom to adapt, change, or alter according to missional and cultural needs.
For example, culture today is very different than in the Middle Ages, which would indicate that church should also be very different in terms of how it should look. We drive cars to church not horses; we have electricity, not candle light; we use computers, not quill pens on animal skins. So how we approach church can and should be very different from generation to generation in order to stay relevant and effective. Even though scripture is silent on topic, we do see the early church modeling some very important elements that in my opinion should be included in every church service.
1. Teach the Bible
Acts 2:42 – They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
The early church taught and learned the Word of God. This has always been a foundational practice when God’s people came together. It started with Jesus commanding the disciples to teach new believers the word of God (c.f. Matthew 28:20), and continued on through the book of Acts when churches were being planted. Scripture also highlights that God will gift certain Christian leaders to fulfill the teaching and preaching role within a church. (c.f. Ephesians 4:11-13) Therefore, when it comes to doing church, it is apparent that teaching the Bible should always be part of the process.
2. Worship The Lord
Ephesians 5:19 – Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.
The Apostle Paul encouraged the church at Ephesus and surrounding churches to come together to sing and make music that creates heartfelt worship to the Lord. Of course, the entire book of Psalms is a hymnbook that the Jews used to worship the Lord and Jesus also highlighted the importance of worshiping God in spirit and in truth. (c.f. John 4:23-24) We also see throughout the Book of Revelation that there will be many worship sessions that include the church as well as angels. Therefore, when it comes to doing church, it is apparent that worship should always be part of the process. Refer to my previous blog post, Worship Wars.
3. Live in Community
Acts 2:44-46 – All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.
The literal definition of church according to the New Testament comes from the Greek word “ekklēsia”, which refers to a gathering or congregation of people, and never a building. This simple definition highlights the importance of Christian living in community together, helping each other, and serving one another. Scripture even highlights how Christians are like a physical body, connected together and supporting one another as uniquely designed by God. (c.f. 1 Corinthians 12:1-27) Therefore, when it comes to doing church, it is apparent that connecting together should always be part of the process.
In conclusion, I don’t think the debate should be over whether church seems like a movie theater or not, but more focused on what movie is showing. Is the Word of God being taught? Are people worshiping the Lord together? And are people living in community, serving, and helping one another? I think God likes that movie!
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