What do you make of the church sign on the right?

It’s become popular in recent years for churches to skip the worship service periodically (once a year? a quarter? once a month?) in order to serve their communities. “No church this morning, we’re picking up trash in the park.” Is this thoughtful cultural engagement or another example of good intentions gone astray?

Well, you can probably guess I’m more apt to say the latter, but let’s not assume the worst about these churches. Let’s assume the people love Christ and love to worship him. Let’s assume they value preaching and believe the chief end of man is to glorify God. Let’s assume the sole motivation behind churchless Sundays is outreach. No one is trying to be trendy. No one is hating on the church. They simply want to help their communities, show they care, and maybe even have an opportunity to talk about Jesus. Assuming these are gospel-believing Christians trying to do gospel work, what’s the big deal about taking four (or two or twelve or whatever) Sundays out of the year to hit the streets and do something for others?

Of course, there’s nothing wrong (and plenty right) about wanting to serve others and take our faith to the streets. But before you cancel your worship services consider the following:

1. Consider practically if this is a good strategy. I know in our church if we skipped worship one Sunday we’d miss a lot of visitors. What if the one Sunday you’re out raking leaves is the one Sunday three non-Christian friends decide to check out your church, or the Sunday that one of your members was bringing in her non-Christian family, or the Sunday that a fringe member was going to venture back to church? Maybe you just miss these folks one week. That happens. But at least consider if the “out serving” strategy could prevent you from serving the people you are actually trying to reach.

2. Consider if there is good (or any) historical precedence for routinely canceling your worship service. Did not the apostolic church meet weekly on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:2), even renaming the day “the Lord’s Day” because of its unique significance (Rev. 1:10)? Not long after, Justin Martyr explained that “On the day which is called Sunday, all who live in the cities or in the countryside gather together in one place” to hear the word read and taught, communion celebrated, and prayers offered with thanksgiving. Granted, in some contexts (I’m thinking the Muslim world) Sunday worship may not be possible. But even there the Christians are still gathering for weekly worship. Given the tremendous weight of church history and apostolic example, we should have pretty good reasons for ditching the worship service in order to do something else.

3. Consider that all of life is worship, but corporate worship is still unique. Paul told the Corinthians to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31), but he also recognized there was something unique about the Corinthian community when they “come together as a church” (11:18). Sunday is the Lord’s Day, a day for rejoicing in the Lord’s resurrection. This calls for “worship worship” as opposed to “all of life worship.” There’s a distinction between being the church and being “in church” (1 Cor. 14:19). Six days are for work, but on only one day do we gather to worship. Think of what you are missing when you make that day for worshiping by serving others instead of being served by God in worship.

4. Consider what it may communicate when you replace services with serving. It sounds like a good idea: let’s do something for the community instead of going to church for ourselves. But ultimately we worship because God summons us to worship. It is for ourselves (see below), but it is also for God. He commands it. So why cancel it instead of something else? But why not do the soup kitchen on Saturday or pump people’s gas on Friday night? I suppose it’s possible you can have some meaningful conversations explaining why you are a Christian and not in church. But it also seems quite likely that churches replace Sunday services with Sunday serving because that’s the time they are already meeting. It’s the best time to get most of your people doing something and it doesn’t require any more time out of their week. Except for doctors, police officers and the like serving in their professions, are there really service projects the church has to do on Sunday morning?

5. Consider that corporate worship is a means of grace. Theologians have always considered the right preaching of the word and the right administration of the sacraments to be channels of divine blessing. So why rob our people of grace? Isn’t the easy removal of a weekly worship service an indication that our view of worship is too puny? We’ve come to think of Sunday morning as a few songs and a little (or long) talk. We’ve forgotten that corporate worship, however small or feeble, is a reflection of the glorious worship offered continuously by saints and angels and creatures and elders. We’ve forgotten that the Lord’s Supper and Baptism are more than rituals. They are rivulets of grace. We’ve forgotten that a sermon is not a lecture but Christ speaking to us. Why would we want to skip all this? Why would we think that shutting this down for a week is the best way to serve a needy world? We can worship God by serving our neighbors, but once a week we are called to serve our neighbors by worshiping God.

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Comments:


44 thoughts on “Should Churches Trade in Services for Serving?”

  1. Ted Bigelow says:

    Plus, its just really bad shepherding. Ever try fighting indwelling sin without spending significant time in worship directly focused on God?

  2. ross says:

    A bigger personal sacrifice would be to give up 3 hours on a fall Saturday afternoon than on a Sunday morning.

    I would like to see 175,000 people at the 2 largest in-state football stadiums give up 3 hours and the price of their tickets to serve their neighbors. It would literally change lives!

  3. Juan Frontera says:

    I am in agreement with Kevin on this. However, we have to watch out and not be like the Pharisees condemning Christ for healing on the Sabbath. We can commit the same error by wanting to do church services without considering the need of the community. The Question is, do we do Church Services because we want to worship and glorify Christ corporately, or do we do it just to calm our consciences and comply with our traditions.

  4. Kim in ON says:

    Why can’t the serving of the community happen in addition to the morning service?

  5. Charles says:

    Kevin:

    I appreciate your post. I think that there are two additional concerns that I have. First, this practice would seem to suggest that worship services and serving are antithetical. This is problematic. Many people at my church serve on Sunday mornings. Second, this practice misunderstands one purpose of our gathering together, namely, to encourage and equip us to serve.

  6. Chris Land says:

    I think that some churches that seek to put aside worship to serve on Sundays could be their love for evangelism, which I do believe a church needs to evangelize, outgrows their desire to glorify God in public worship. Another thing could be that people are too busy to serve why not take worship services out to accommendate. I am all for days when the church goes out to serve, but corporate worship should not be affected.

  7. Robert says:

    I think Ross makes a GREAT point:

    “A bigger personal sacrifice would be to give up 3 hours on a fall Saturday afternoon than on a Sunday morning.

    “I would like to see 175,000 people at the 2 largest in-state football stadiums give up 3 hours and the price of their tickets to serve their neighbors. It would literally change lives!”

    AMEN Brother!

  8. Reg Schofield says:

    Serving or loving our neighbor is not the gospel. Plus as a Christian , do we not have 7 days to fulfill serving our community and neighbors.Gathering together to hear the word preached and the sacraments rightfully administered , will in turn hopefully, lead to servants of the cross. This makes no sense to me . Well said , Kevin.

  9. Richard says:

    Amen to what Reg said. The Gospel is the good news of what Christ has done FOR us–not what we do for our neighbor (which is our response to the Gospel in our vocation of loving neighbor); this only serves to confuse the two. Amazing that evangelicals doing this start to sound like the liberals of several years ago–read Machen’s “Liberalism and Christianity.”

  10. I agree with Charles. A church gathering filled with people worshipping the Triune God is a service to the community. A people in communion with God will have a tremendous impact on the life of a community in far more significant ways than trash pick up at the park. (Not that picking up trash isn’t helpful, but it is small potatoes compared to the Great Commission.)

  11. ScottL says:

    1. Consider practically if this is a good strategy. I know in our church if we skipped worship one Sunday we’d miss a lot of visitors. What if the one Sunday you’re out raking leaves is the one Sunday three non-Christian friends decide to check out your church, or the Sunday that one of your members was bringing in her non-Christian family, or the Sunday that a fringe member was going to venture back to church?

    I think these are only questions mainly asked in America and a few other western world places. This seems like the argument that, what if we don’t ‘share the gospel’ with every friend we run into. They might lose that one opportunity. We have to allow for the providence and sovereignty of God. Not to mention, what about those who see the church ‘giving up one Sunday every once in a while’ to serve the community. Won’t people ask questions about us? Who is that group? Ah, they are Christians and they are only 5 minutes from us? Let’s check them out.

    It could go either way.

    2. Consider if there is good (or any) historical precedence for routinely canceling your worship service. Did not the apostolic church meet weekly on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:2), even renaming the day “the Lord’s Day” because of its unique significance (Rev. 1:10)?

    Is the church not gathering together? Does it always have to revolve around a 40-minute sermon and singing of 3 or 4 songs? I am up for these things. I love them. But that is not church in its essence, is it? This is why I love Acts 2:42-47.

    3. Consider that all of life is worship, but corporate worship is still unique.

    This is very true. Awesome opportunity when many Christians gather together. That is why I believe it is so important But to not do it ‘every once in a while’, is that a big detriment? And how exciting when a large group serve together! If you have done it, you know it builds up the body and strengthens them.

    4. Consider what it may communicate when you replace services with serving. It sounds like a good idea: let’s do something for the community instead of going to church for ourselves. But ultimately we worship because God summons us to worship. It is for ourselves (see below), but it is also for God. He commands it. So why cancel it instead of something else?

    Again, to cancel every so often – would God be upset? Is this our Father or an angry Gandalf? And I can only imagine the joy of God as we serve and look to draw people to Christ in the larger context.

    5. Consider that corporate worship is a means of grace. Theologians have always considered the right preaching of the word and the right administration of the sacraments to be channels of divine blessing. So why rob our people of grace?

    Is it robbing people to do this every once in a while? Why not do both, as the city of Brussels is doing on October 10.

  12. John says:

    My church is one that is doing this. I whole-heartedly support this. We are seeing God open doors into the community. We have schools asking for us to come and help. More schools are coming to us than we are able to help. It is no longer something that only our church does we are serving alongside people of the community. It is allowing greater access for our pastors and members to be at school during school hours.
    Yes there are six other days. However, you will have the same 20 or so people showing up to help at your event on a Saturday or whenever. Whereas, we are able to get basically our whole congregation in the community serving. I think the reason is we have taken away people’s excuses of other things to do.
    If the church is doing it for their gain and to advance their kingdom then I think it would be better for them to just stay in their ‘holy huddle.’ But if it is to advance God’s glory and His kingdom. Then I do not have a problem with it. My church’s focus is the latter.
    Aside from all of this and most importantly. It is an act of worship. To humble yourself to cleaning the local highschool’s bathroom. Jesus was a servant and calls us to do as He did.

  13. The trouble I have is that it seems that the Lord Supper was something taken weekly in the New Testament and in early church history. It was a weekly reminder that our Lord had died on our behalf and now we live for him. Also 1 Corinthians 14 shows that during these gatherings that the church heard a message, sang songs, and prayed. All of this seems to be weekly, which is backed up by church history.

    Now why can’t the church do both. If they want to have a serving Sunday, then why not gather together at that location for a time of corporate worship and then go off and serve together.

  14. Richard says:

    God’s kingdom is advanced by the preaching of his Word every Lord’s Day and through a Word and Sacrament ministry to His church–not through picking up trash at the Wal-mart parking lot. Again–it sounds as if evangelicals are imitating liberals in denigrating the preaching of the Gospel, which alone is the power of God for salvation.

  15. Todd Morikawa says:

    Kevin, thank you for examining the rightness of the Lord’s Day corporate gathering. God has given His people a design for worship from the Scriptures and I think you highlighted it well. It seems those who disagree with you simply need to examine it at that level, and agree or agree to disagree. Any support of that church sign seems to be pragmatic at best.

  16. Kim K. says:

    I agree with you, Kevin. Our church has started doing this and I’ve wondered how to explain it to my younger kids – “We’re not going to church today because we are going to Mrs. X’s house to pull weeds. We can love Jesus by helping others!” Next Sunday morning I imagine I’d hear something like, “Hey, I don’t have to go to church; I set the table yesterday and picked up brother’s toys without being asked. That’s how I loved Jesus this week.” And would I really have a good answer for that?

  17. JLP says:

    When did the 10 commandments become 9 commandments? Why are we able to throw out the 4th? I understand that God gives grace in works of necessity and that it is “lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (saving your ox if it falls in a whole, helping someone in need of assistance, etc.), but God said “the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.” (Ex. 20:10) And Ex. 31: “And the LORD said to Moses, 13″You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you.” The Sabbath is to sanctify us! It’s not a burden nor is it a suggestion. Why wouldn’t we continue to honor this commandment given by God? God said that anyone who worked on the Sabbath should be put to death…Israel had to stone a man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath (see Numbers 15), and churches are encouraging their members to rake leaves and pickup garbage in place of worship?! Raking leaves or picking up garbage is work. Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, not the abolisher of it. Yes he healed people and his disciples picked food when they were hungry, but does scripture tell us that we should (or that Jesus did) forsake the meeting together on the Sabbath or stop keeping it holy (I believe it says the opposite)?

    It concerns me that the churches forsaking worship in the name of community service aren’t more like the Acts 13 people. They begged to hear Paul preach on the Sabbath. Have we learned all that there is to learn from the pulpit? Maybe these congregations don’t need to be sanctified anymore, but I know I surely do and will need to be for the rest of my life every single Sunday (and every day for that matter). I can’t afford to give up one Sunday a month, quarter, or year; I need the grace received during Sunday morning worship. But I can surely give up any Saturday or weekday in the name of service, evangelism, etc., and I do. By not having worship on Sunday and doing community service instead, shows your priorities. If the congregation isn’t willing to do community service on a Saturday, or any other day of the week, but will if they can skip church, then you have a big problem on your hands.

    Unless I’m misinterpreting Hebrews 4:9, should we not still honor the Sabbath as new covenant people? 6 days…we have 6 days to do work. That was good enough for God in creation, so why do we think we are above his created order? It is a gracious gift (and command) that God has given us the Sabbath; we shouldn’t forsake it.

  18. Doyle says:

    Most of this, dare I say, is promoted by lazy pastors. Ten years ago, most churches had an evening service but most churches have stopped that. Most churches now have an assistent pastor that preaches once a month. Throw in the pastor’s vacation on top of that. Now add a “working” Sunday once a month. How many sermons must a pastor come up with per year?

    Two sunday services 104
    Remove Sunday evening services 52
    Subtract vacations 48
    Hire an assistant pastor to preach once a month 36
    Have a “working” Sunday 24

    Is this all about being light in the world or enabling lazy pastors?

  19. Tad says:

    I think pastors should have to preach three times a week with no vacation.

  20. Jeff Kerr says:

    Doyle,

    I’m an assistant pastor, so take this for what it’s worth. But your comment assumes that preaching and preparing sermons is all that pastors do. Mind you, we have an evening service. So the senior pastor and I are each preaching four or five times a month. I also have no idea what a working Sunday is. Pastors also lead Bible studies and small groups, they teach some form of Christian education class, they visit people in their homes and in the hospital, they evangelize, and they counsel. All of this is to say, I’m not sure that the number of sermons a pastor preaches in any given calendar year is necessarily an indication of that pastor’s laziness.

  21. truthmatters says:

    Boy, they must be a really christian church, just look what they are doing.

  22. Brian Stock says:

    Consider serving the community by holding a “big” gathering of people who listen to the gospel of Jesus heralded. When did we every come to think this is not serving the community. That is, having a place where the doors are open to your community to come and see Jesus.

  23. Brian Wilson says:

    I think we are confusing church doctrine with church practice. The church has to be committed to the doctrine of God’s people regularly gathering together (for sacraments, preaching and prayer/singing) and taking a break from normal work and activity. How a church does this is not doctrine and in many ways how we practice church today is not where near how the early church practiced it.

    If a church has midweek church or small groups (Again where sacraments & prayer are done), they listen to a sermon online and they serve on sunday does that not please God that we worshipped him with our heart and hands? Remember the words of Jesus, “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:12). So if we serve people, maybe pray for them, maybe talk to them about Jesus, is that not good on the Sabbath?

    In scriptures, worship can be translated as serving. And if a church is serving/worshipping God with their hands, I wonder if God appreciates that more than some churches who have great “worship” experiences on Sunday but don’t do much good outside the walls.

    Kevin, I think you have attempted well to cause discussion. I think there are bigger problems facing the church and bigger issues God would want us truly debating. When people who are not Christians see us debating over whether a church should serve their community four times a year or gather together… well, I think we lose some of our power and influence. Paul encouraged Timothy not to get caught up in useless debates. This would be one :)

  24. Faith says:

    Really appreciated this practical but biblical address to a problem I have seen develop in the hearts of many a believer: “I’m serving ‘here’ this weekend so I don’t need/have to go to church”. Thanks

  25. Bob says:

    I’m a tweener. What if the Church gathered to worship together and then the Church hit the streets. One of our sights have done this and it was a win/win. God’s name was made great in two ways.

  26. Matthew James says:

    Thanks for the post. Unlike Mr. Wilson I tend to disagree. I think that this is a very relevant issue that has larger implications than one might think. And perhaps the charitable tone of our disagreements will actually serve to draw people to Christ instead of push them farther away? I have found these observations and the following discussion very useful. Thank you.

  27. Dwight says:

    I think Kevin’s right on target, especially #4 and #5. To pull the congregation out of church just because they’re going to be at church together sounds like one of those great ideas somebody had that is, beneath the surface, merely pragmatism in action.

  28. ross says:

    John: to your comments below:
    “Yes there are six other days. However, you will have the same 20 or so people showing up to help at your event on a Saturday or whenever. Whereas, we are able to get basically our whole congregation in the community serving. I think the reason is we have taken away people’s excuses of other things to do.”

    Your message points out that only 20 are really committed to making a sacrifice regardless of the time chosen. Don’t hold the congregation or Sunday hostage by finding the time for service when people run out of excuses. I am glad Jesus didn’t come to earth when it was convenient or when He ran out of excuses.

  29. ScottL says:

    JLP -

    The Sabbath begins Friday sundown and goes to Saturday sundown, at least in accordance with the Law. I know the first Christians began meeting on Sunday in remembrance of the day Jesus rose. But we cannot preach ‘remember the Sabbath’, lest 98% of us fall well short, albeit Seventh Day Adventists.

    And I’m with commenter tad above – I am a pastor and I think I should preach 3, no 7 times a week, and have no vacation! :)

  30. I get the point your making Kevin but here are a few scenarios and why personally, I think generalizations tend to hurt more than do good. We were/are a house church

    1. We stopped meeting on Sundays because: We were not growing, people were not evangelizing, I was preparing every week for the discussion/sermon/kids studies, no one was serving (in the church), and on top of our mid week meeting, and a 50-60hr week job, my family and health were paying the price so that folks could sit passively back and consume the ‘service’ each week.

    2. I am actively inviting, engaging, and discipling all throughout the week after work, and on Sunday’s I try to have an appointment during ‘service times’ for a new unchurch guy I am discipling at a theologically sound church near where he lives. So I regularly visit other churches in the area on Sunday mornings, just not mine because we are trying to grow…. to have Sundays… I don’t worry about visitors because none of our folks are inviting, engaging, evangelizing, so I go to them (my ‘visitors’) on Sunday.

    3. Generalizations (just like in “why we love the church”) although tend to be good illustrations, can be hurtful to faithful guys like myself who would love to ‘live up to your’ post and have 1000′s on a sunday morning so that you would not notice folks that did not show up. The reality is, not all of us are in that situation, and living up to what you pass off as the demand from scripture, is not a biblical imperative. It is a liberty and license issue, or maybe better said, a FORM and FUNCTION issue. It says not to forsake the fellowshipping togehter, etc, not for us to be in a building, on Sunday morning and taking pot shots at others who dont without first asking questions. I would love to have a Sunday ‘service’, get that it is an ‘understood time for meeting’ but it just not possible in the current state and transition we are in, so yes, I challenge our folks to GO to church with others on Sunday so maybe they can hear your sermon and get convicted and love ‘their church’.

    4. Visiting another church or serving a ‘friend’ on Sunday (as you and I both know) rarely happens because when given the choice, most people stay in bed. Which begs the question, if they have no integrity to GO, what makes you think that COMING to a service is a good thing for them either? Same heart, passively sitting in a pew on Sunday… Is that really what Christ had in mind for ‘church’? That is why he was in the temple regularly blasting them. Blasting the pharisees every week is not good for the shepherds soul either… it gets old, and you realize that like with YOUR kids, yelling at them to do something means nothing until their are consequences.

    5. We stopped meeting on Sundays because people were inconsiderate, did not show up on time, did not come prepared to worship a holy God, were not volunteering to serve, and when challenged, slapped me on the back and said, ‘really good message this week’ and went home and committed adultery. So I am going to continue to ‘serve’ my community, until some committed disciples step up and decide to worship God with me on Sunday, not passively sit back and consume God on Sunday. I need the rest and I bet God does too…

    Writing responses on the web is a failing sometimes because I am trying (like you are trying) to communicate something that has much CONTEXT and we only get one shot to communicate it and we desire that the right communication happens. Let’s be clear, I am not one of the House Church Nazi’s outlined in your “why we love the church” however, I also have loved, patiently, and committed to HIS church for the last 10+ years of my life. As the old adage goes, I love the church just not HIS people (cliche), is not the right label either… again there is alot more to the story. What I am trying to say is that, THANK THE LORD you love your church and folks around you love the church. We are still looking for some that do…

  31. Dwight says:

    @Derek, I believe the church with “1000s” as you say is the exception rather than the rule. I have no idea how large Kevin’s church along the eastern edge of MSU is, but would suspect it’s no megachurch.

    In regard to church health, I’ve found 9Marks.org to be very helpful, and books such as Philip Ryken’s “City on a Hill” and Michael Horton’s “A Better Way” direct us back to Scripture to refresh us on what a biblical model for corporate worship and church life may look like. Getting buy-in may be difficult for folks who do not like to think (and our entertainment culture, generations in the making, is not conducive to the development of reasoning skills), but I believe a pastor’s job is to give us a biblical view of God and His Gospel, and to point us the way to Scripture so that we too can increase in our growth and in our appreciation of who God is and what He is done for us. Can there be any other appropriate motivation for serving Him than a renewed mind?

  32. Dwight,
    Thanks for the comment. My ‘generalizations’ did not help either (reminded I need the gospel too). Love the resources you mentioned and we reference them and point to them. Problem is, we live also in an anti-intellectual culture and most would rather (actual comment one of our Elders received one time trying to disciple someone)get the microwave version, versus doing the study, reading the bible, and commiting to being biblical versus emo.

    Amen to the renewed mind – Justin Taylor did some great work on anti-intellectualism a while back…

    We are dissolving our church after 3yrs, and my wife and I are excited to vanish in the background of VERY BIBLICAL denomination that has much more support than we did in our plant. As we ramp up with the church plant/denomination, it is amazing to me how the maturity level is also different with those whom it attracts and we are eagerly anticipating doing life with other disciples and participants who want in the game too!

  33. Robert says:

    My fear isn’t for the church that does this, but rather for the motives behind doing this. I DON’T think you can say, “don’t do this because it’s not part of the gospel.” However, I do think we need to consider if we are being gimmicky, or if this is actually an outward demonstration of love toward the community. When I lead mission trips, I don’t like to hear, “I’m going on this trip because I want to feel good about myself.” Or, “It feels so good when you do stuff to help people.” I like to hear, “I’m compelled to love my neighbors because they are lost and in need of a Savior, and they are made in the image of God.” I believe the church has handed out enough water bottles for the world to know that this is not love, but a gimmicky way for some folks to feel good about themselves, and their ‘creativity.’ Let’s serve the neighborhoods anyway we can, but do it because we love them, not because it’s a program or gimmick.

  34. John says:

    Ross: in regards to your comment.
    “Your message points out that only 20 are really committed to making a sacrifice regardless of the time chosen. Don’t hold the congregation or Sunday hostage by finding the time for service when people run out of excuses. I am glad Jesus didn’t come to earth when it was convenient or when He ran out of excuses.”

    Firstly, I meant that as a side point to the real benefits. I do not see where the connection to Jesus coming and a church serving in its community. I think it is absurd and pointless to draw one. The congregation is not held hostage. If they don’t want to serve their community then they don’t have to come. I was skeptical of this at first but after we did it. It is something that I support.
    People are busy. I am grateful that their lives are not solely based on the next church event. They are out in the community living their lives with other people.
    Serving other people is good. I do not think there is a person on here that is able to disagree with that statement.
    I see a lot of legalism and religiousness that Christ seemed to condemn in the Pharisees.
    Jesus healed the sick on the Sabbath and the Pharisees called him on it. The Acts church gathered together. We are not forsaking the gathering together. I do not see the Biblical connection to say that You should not do this.
    Like I said before it depends on the church’s motives. For my church it is not to grow our kingdom. It actual puts a financial strain on the church. As I said before you are worshiping through serving. Not only that, we do have a shortened service at the end generally as a recap. We sing praises and take communion. And share what God was doing that day. Take this for what it is. I hope you receive this with the grace that it was meant. It is not my responsibility to justify it to you. Nor is it yours to justify your point to me.

  35. Sharee says:

    To the world this approach looks and sounds good. I know a few pre-Christians who look at the church as a ‘business’. So, shutting the service down to go and ‘do’ instead of ‘be’ could cause some to see ‘us’ as different (thats a good thing, right?). But, for me, the ‘doing’ is not something I occasionally set aside as a ministry. ‘Being’ involved is 24, 7 not just on The Lord’s Day because the Lord’s Day is ‘everyday’ as He is the One who created this day in the first place.

  36. Linda Owen says:

    Amen to this post! Thank you!

    Our pastor always shares that “church” is a family, not a business. And we need to spend more time with our family, worshipping and growing closer to our Father, in unity. “There the Lord commands the blessing!” (Psalm 133)

  37. Ron says:

    Interesting timing as my church is actually participating in what we’ve termed “Blue Jean Sunday” for the first time, tomorrow. We will meet for a brief time of worship and prayer and then disperse to several different projects within the community. After the work, we’ll convene back at church for a communal meal, testamony, and worship.

    I’ve had some of the same concerns as Kevin, but really think that for one Sunday a year, this is a great opportunity to “Be The Church” (which is our emphasis for the entire year)

  38. Wow.. i have just read this article and all of the comments, and I have to say that there are some properly mental Christians posting n here! I am sure God loves you all, but it may take the rest of us some practice before we can say that!

    Here are my thoughts…

    Was there not a story somewhere in the Bible about the dude who prayed in the street for everyone to hear, and the dude who acted like a cripple so people would know that he is fasting? I am sure that pops up in the Bible and that Jesus is against this kind of thing… would not erecting a big sign at the front of your church declaring to the passing world that you are all out for the afternoon ‘being good’ not fall into that same category of actions?

    In saying that, if you can sit about and watch your community self destruct and fall apart and not feel compelled to help then maybe you are not a Christian at all? If you fit that description then please stop referring to yourself as a Christian… it just makes it harder for the rest of us – we all get tarred with your brush….

    Should churches mobilize to help their communities? Yes. Should they do it on Sunday instead of a service? No. What is wrong with after the service, or before the service? What about Saturday?

    Replacing the Sunday service with a day of ‘action’ implies what you really think about the usefulness of the Sunday service. More than that, it communicates to the passing world what you think about the importance of preaching/teaching/corporate worship.

    If a church is going to mobilize to help its community, don’t do it instead of your Sunday service. And please, don’t put up huge signs telling the neighbourhood what good you are doing…

  39. Arthur Sido says:

    That is a great question on number four. What will the lost think if they see us going out to minister to people instead of demanding that the lost come to us, on our terms and on our turf?!

    Well, what they might think is that we take the commandments of Christ seriously, that we see serving our neighbor as more important than observing our cultural religious rituals. Just maybe.

  40. Point says:

    I’ve heard one argument for “serving on Sunday” that Sunday morning is the perfect time to be out serving… because all the other Christians are in church.

    But, if you’re in church for 3 hours on Sunday (these days, that’s probably on the high end by a factor of about 3), what are you doing the rest of the other 165 hours per week? I’ll give you… 65 for work. That leaves 100 hours. I’ll even give you 8 hours of sleep per night (yeah, right). That still leaves 44 hours… or over 14 TIMES as much time when you’re not at work, at church, or sleeping that you coule be out serving. It isn’t like non-Christians only come out on Sunday mornings… they’re living life, just like you. They don’t have a special non-Christian meeting (that I’m aware of, at least).

    Let’s use Sunday for Sunday’s purpose and allow that to affect the other 98% of our lives. I’m not trying to say that church is just a “Sunday thing” (I actually saw a sign in front of a chapel that said this… ‘It’s a Sunday thing, you wouldn’t understand’ or something like that), I’m actually saying just the opposite! Don’t pigeonhole our service into Sunday morning the same way that we shouldn’t pigeonhole our faiths to those 3 hours of corporate worship.

    The only time I really see this working and as the “right” way is when Sunday morning isn’t the normal corporate worship time. For a congregation that is very untraditional (church is only on Saturday night, etc), then Sunday morning is free… and a great time to serve. I don’t think that those congregations should skip their Sat night service to go serve, though, for the reasons stated above.

  41. Bob says:

    Kevin is right. We can serve our community with service activities, but that should not displace worship services. If we do that, we are clearly ignoring God’s purpose in commanding a day of worship and of rest. If it is OK to go pull weeds or pick up trash on a Sunday morning, why not participate on the traveling soccer or football team that plays on Sunday morning? Why not attend the train show, or the camera club, or the other groups that meet on Sunday morning? That would give us lots more opportunities to meet our unchurched neighbors. Perhaps we could add Friday or Saturday services at church so that people would be free for other things on Sunday morning. Of course, our neighbors might then wonder what the term “unchurched” means.

  42. Paul says:

    Sunday worship is distinct (not necessarily because its Sunday) and I think it is right to not replace that time with outreach, but I know churches that have 5-6 services throughout the week, which takes away a Christians time with the ‘world’. Even having college Friday services and small groups throughout the week has that affect. I like to ask people how many close non-Christian friends they have. Most Christians I know have none. Many Christians (including me) simply do not have much facetime with non-Christians, and thus naturally, lack opportunities for outreach and evangelism. Not sure if replacing gatherings with outreach is the solution, but maybe its a balance issue? Any prescriptions?

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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