I recently read an awesome article by Thom Schultz about a church’s obsession with Sunday. This got me thinking about the relationship of the church with Sunday.
There’s a great deal of history behind church having worship on Sunday – I’m not going to get into all of that here. There is literally enough history to fill a semester class in seminary.
Some churches go to great length to make Sunday a great show, as Thom talks about in his article. I am left wondering how much effort is put into being church the rest of the week.
Now don’t get me wrong – I love the liturgy and church. I wouldn’t be a Lutheran seminarian if I didn’t. And let me tell you, there’s a huge difference between worship that is done with excellence and worship that is well, less than excellent. Excellent doesn’t have to be high church either.
So where am I going with all this? Here’s my list of what makes for a great Sunday worship (or Saturday evening if your church has that option).
1. Intentionality – what’s the point of the worship? Is it clear that this is leading somewhere? Or are we just gathering to have some fun or do what we always do because we have always done it this way?
2. Points to the rest of the week – Sunday worship is the kickoff of a weekly game, so to speak. The game is life and there are seven days to it. You can’t just stop playing part way through the week – life won’t let you. Church can be a help for people to get through the week.
3. Excellence – this looks different for each congregation. Are you using the skills and talents of the people who are a part of the church to really offer up the best praise to God? Everyone has value and something that they can offer – sometimes you just have to dig a bit to find out what it is.
4. Context – This speaks to the previous point. Know your context. Worship should match the people attending for one simple reason – it’s their offering of praise up to God. It ought to be authentic. If it is, then it will also be…
5. Relevant – Yes, I know it’s a word that probably gets overused. However, I can’t think of a better term. If church and worship aren’t relevant to the people attending, why on earth do you think they will continue to show up? Church should connect with people’s lives. Church has something special to offer people – hope, grace, love, forgiveness, among other things. People desperately need these things. Even unchurched people search for these things. Does worship point to these things and how God is active all week-long in offering these desperately needed things in the world?