What are we doing?


Why do we do this?Every Sunday morning, 300 well-dressed people get out of their cars, file through a lobby and sit in a pew for an hour and a half to sing and listen. At the conclusion of that time, about 100 to 150 of them leave and the remainder move from their pews to some plastic chairs for another hour of sitting and listening. After an hour, a bell rings, the people stand up and some head immediately to the door while others stand around and talk, hug and laugh. After 30 minutes or so, the building is empty, the lights off, ready for next week.

Why do we do it? Why do we come together every week, doing the same thing, with the same people?

Is it because we’re supposed to – either through a direct or inferred command? Is it because that’s the way we’ve always done it? Is it because we like doing it?


I’d like to explore this question over the next couple of days, examining the implications of possible answers to this question. I know my track record of carrying through with blog series, but I’ll work to make this time different.

In the meantime, why do you think your community of faith gathers?

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  1. Sam's Dad
    September 19, 2007 at 5:08 pm — Reply


  2. Sam's Dad
    September 19, 2007 at 5:10 pm — Reply

    Remember that Jesus said, “Where 2 or 3 of you gather, I will be in your midst.”

  3. September 19, 2007 at 7:38 pm — Reply

    Say, for example, that 642 people gathered as the community of faith I am a part of. I think there would be about 642 reasons they gathered. Here are a few (in no particular order):
    relationships with people
    to participate in worship
    to give
    to receive
    because there are cute girls (motivation hopefully specific to the adolescent male population)
    to be motivated to get/stay on the right track

    Why I wish our community gathered:
    To celebrate what we have experienced God to do throughout the week…. to express the overflow of days lived with an awareness of and obedience to God’s presence.

    Honestly, I know a few people who do gather for those reasons. And I want to be just like them when I grow up.

  4. kristin
    September 20, 2007 at 11:26 am — Reply

    Its so interesting that you ask this today because I have thought a lot this week about meeting and why and all that where it partains to “my” church – which is a home church that meets in my house on Thurs nights, etc.
    The new Caedmons Call cd came out last week or the week before last. There is a song on it (# 3 or 4) called “Expectations.” One line says something about tall steeples being an expensive advertisment for something cheap – not across the board, mind you…but just for the guy in particular that the song is about.
    I got to thinking about that. If the “something” is cheap then its not Gods fault. Its not because of his set-up. Its not because he really offers something cheap. What he offers was/is expensive. It cost blood…and lives (in more ways than one).
    I thought to myself, “I dont want any part of who our gathering is or what we are about to be only an expensive advertisment for something that turns out to be cheap.”
    So, what do we offer? (And, yes, whether or not that advertisy/consumeristic language turns you off or not, God does offer something). How do we, as a small church, answer Jesus? What comes first and what flows from that?
    Our existance has nothing to do with trying not to be like program-based churches. We are not a reaction. We look the way we do because for me (and for more than probably just me) it means there is less “crap” to wade through in order to meet Jesus…in order to experience God any time we meet. There isnt a rigid schedule or time alotment for this or that, for example. There are other reasons we look the way we do but I think this is one of them.
    We dont EXSIST for this reason…we EXSIST to be the body of Christ…to worship and to praise God…to make it all about Him. This other is just one of the reasons church looks the way it does for us right now.
    I dont know if this really answers your question…I think it does though. The way we meet and how it looks, the changes we make, etc. points toward what we think we are doing!
    There is more I could write, I think…but Ill wait til your further posts on this topic.

  5. September 20, 2007 at 1:07 pm — Reply

    I’m glad you brought that up, too.

    Because frankly I don’t go to church, precisely because of the reasons Kim mentioned. A sense of obligation, habit, (often somewhat forced) relationships with people we wouldn’t want to spend time with otherwise, obedience (to whom?), to participate in a kind of worship that often seems devoid of any content (but full of jargon we don’t understand ourselves… “grace”, anyone… or “forgiveness”?), to get on the right track (by listening to a sermon by someone whose authority to speak on the matter is what, exactly?)… those things don’t smack of the holy presence of Jesus in the kind of yearning, intense way that He seems to ask of us. In evangelical circles especially, I think church has become a social club/pep rally/sense-of-righteousness-injection moment for nice people who want a sense of community and who want to be told that their opinions are correct. And getting away from the Sunday-Wednesday-pew model doesn’t change that basic failure.

    So that’s a blanket statement, yes, and it’s unfair. But I’d like those who wish to change that to come out and say what they mean, exactly, when they talk of things like “celebration” (apart from what happens in all self-help groups where the members share how they’ve been “touched” by whatever’s important to them and everybody else nods affirmingly and sometimes they cry), by “expressing the overflow of days” (apart from the slightly embarrassing “I am so thankful”-confessions we affirm our sentimentalities with in small groups with about as much spiritual depth as a Hallmark card), or by “meeting Jesus” (except by making him in our image of an ornery nice guy and then ourselves being nice guys to each other and then hoping that means we’re holy).

    How’s that for playing devil’s advocate? (For those of you who don’t know me, btw, I’m not really that down on the church. I say this like I do because I think we tend to evade the question by falling back either on change as a virtue in itself, or on holy talk, or on justifying what we do by the pleasant emotions we feel while we do it, such as a sense of belonging or a sense of purpose or a sense of acceptance or a sense of joy… those can be had in hundreds of ways other than church.)

    Have at it.

  6. September 20, 2007 at 3:14 pm — Reply

    I wish I knew the answer. I do it because I can see Christ & glean new insights into how the kingdom of Heaven is advancing. I don’t always like or agree with what I see at my church, but its the best I’ve found & I really can’t complain if I’m not willing to get involved & “be the change I’d like to see.”

  7. September 21, 2007 at 10:41 am — Reply

    I just read this book that sort of shook up my perspective on church and what it really should look like.

    It’s called Under the Overpass.

    I’m really wrestling right now with what seems like a huge chasm between what the U.S. church is and what it should be.

  8. September 22, 2007 at 2:28 pm — Reply


  9. September 24, 2007 at 9:48 am — Reply

    […] for your responses on the previous post. It has helped fuel this blog-series I’m attempting to […]

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What are we doing?