We seem to have a "set pattern" for our church services in bigger cities that does not deviate much from denomination to denomination. Is it time to try a new pattern? What about something that looks and feels completely different and still centers completely on Christ and His bride, the church?
Instead of putting our pastors and worship leaders in a place where they perform and we critique, this is a place where we are all active participants. As we progress as a “body” some will naturally begin to lead, but the pressure of performing will be mostly removed.
Instead of being a place of laughter and fun, this would be a place of real emotion. We would let the Spirit lead us to weep, lament, cry out, praise, laugh, and be silent.
Instead of a church that says community is important, it would be a place that intentionally builds community. People that want to be entertained once a week would not be attracted to a place like this…we hope.
Instead of a place where teachers are upheld, it would be a place where we uphold the seven greater gifts of being apostles, prophets, teachers, healers, miracle workers, speakers in tongues, and interpreters of tongues.
Instead of a place where we try to show how good we are, it would be a place where we work as a body and show appreciation for the various parts of the body. We would celebrate our differences and individual gifts.
Instead of letting the church be run as a secular business, we would let the Spirit lead. We would encourage others to speak out, and then discuss if this is of God or not. Church is so careful to make sure that there is no false teaching or bad ideas. We would discuss them as a body of Christ, using the great commandment as our guide, prayer, and the scripture.
Like every other church we would follow the great commandment of loving God and loving others, discussing and practicing weekly what this means.
As a church plant, advertise this as a place to worship God if you do not like to go to church. Advertise it as a place that tries to carry out this mandate: Luke 15:4 (NIV) “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
Have cards that can be handed out with place and dates of meeting on it. Start a website only if there is someone to maintain it daily.
It would have to be a place that is easy to walk into. Also, it should have an open area that allows for different groups to sit together and talk. A children’s play area should be in one corner, so that children can play while their parents look on. There should be a supervised outdoor play area for children to have easy access to. There should be a room that parents can take their kids into if they are having tantrums.
Have a sign at the door that says every week you will be assigned to a group. You can choose the same group you had before or request a new one.
People go into the building and go to the group they are assigned to. There will be a greeter who makes them feel welcome and lets them know the layout of the building. At 10:00 sharp, they start their group by asking about the week, asking if there are things to be happy about or things that make them sad.
As the weeks progress, the groups will find an order that works for them. If no one wants to talk, then have silence and prayer. This is a time of bringing your week to the Lord and his people, sharing and caring, and preparing to come into a place where all God’s people get ready to seek God and praise God as a corporate body.
A worship “leader” then calls everyone together into the presence of God to worship Him. It is a time to quietly reflect on who God is, be led in song so that everyone’s voice is important, and to corporately lift our hearts and voices to God. The leader should only be heard loud enough to lead the other voices. It should not be a performance. Instruments should not be allowed until the players can play so that it enhances the singing, not drown it out. It can be a time of lament, or silence, or singing, or reading a Bible selection together. A screen at the front would direct all eyes in the same direction.
This is the time when the group leaders come together to discuss needs and issues in their groups. If anyone has asked to share their story or would like corporate prayer, this is the time to bring it up. If there is nothing to share, have someone come up and speak in tongues and get the congregation to give their interpretations.
Then everyone returns to their groups to discuss what they experienced and to talk and pray about issues they would like help with. Some can go and play with the children, or talk with the youth, or make plans for the rest of the day, or plans for the week.
There should be a choir group that meets during the week so that adults and children can learn to sing again. Maybe a Friday Community Night.
Hopefully with an idea like this, community would grow out of the energy that Sunday mornings generate.