I definitely have a naughty streak in me, and its all the more entertaining when my friends play along. Last night, while practising for the evening’s praise and worship, Chris (the other one) came to me and asked if I’d help him to help the congregation to sit closer together in the huge empty hall.
Traditionally, we have a busy-ish morning service at St. Johns, and a less-than-busy evening service attended mostly by the more senior of congregants. His suggestion wasn’t merely to ask them to move, but to provide the means by which to pick their seating. We taped the pews in the back half of the hall up with red and white tape. Very naughty indeed…
But we discovered a very important thing. While the congregation clearly wasn’t expecting this curve-ball, they really weren’t prepared to handle it in a graceful manner. This led to a long discussion between Chris, Carmen, Liz and myself; about how set the church is in their ways. Why, after all, do we wear ties and skirts to church, and normal clothes the rest of the week?
Traditionalism certainly has a stranglehold on the church. We are consumed by what we wear – only in church – but not to our jobs and schools. We are consumed by what we are allowed to say, where we are allowed to ‘draw the lines’, how we are allowed to gossip – only at church – but nowhere else. Traditionalism is helping us become Sunday Christians.
Does that sound too extreme? When’s the last time you considered if what you were wearing was appropriate for church? Last Sunday, I’ll bet. We do it all the time. But when’s the last time you really considered if what you were wearing to that party/club/gal’s night out was appropriate? What about vocab? Do you often find yourself feeling guilty because you used words you never would were you ‘in church’? Lord, how I shame Thee; let me count the ways…
This is in part because we are dreadfully sinful individuals, but also because we are breed to have over-the-top reverence for a building to the detriment of our witness during the week. So how do we fix this?
One practical way is to bring church to the rest of our week. Huh? What I mean is, we should try to foster more fellowship with Christian friends outside of church. Become godly hosts, if you will. Look at the early Acts churches. They met together, shared with each other and had stuff in common. It doesn’t say that they did everything in the church – simply that they met together and had good old fellowship.
Have a supper, where the bible is read. Make it a communion supper even! Schedule a morning coffee with a Christian brother or sister in which you chat about your lives and struggles as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, skilfully disguised as the common working folk. Share your hobbies and interests. Pray together.
But whatever you do – just don’t tape the pews!