I would appreciate you helping me write this Tag Team Blog.
Please post any questions and/concerns you have about participatory church in the comments. I will do my best to answer them. Thanks for your help!
About Steve Simms
I like to look and think outside the box. In college I encountered Jesus Christ and I have been passionate about trying to get to know Him better ever since. My wife and I long to see the power and passion of the first Christ-followers come to life in our time. I have written a book about our experiences in non-traditional church, called, "Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible--Ekklesia." If you need encouragement, search for: Elephants Encouraging The Room and/or check out my Amazon author page. Thank you!
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Someone sent me this question on Facebook: “I heard someone say this is the way Quakers have church…do you know the history of this way?”
Here is my reply: The Quakers began in the 1600s in England and they called themselves the Society of Friends. There leader was George Fox. Fox was confused by the religion of his day and felt like there had to be be more than what traditional church offered. He kept seeking God and one day heard God say to him; “There is one, even Jesus Christ, that can speak to thy condition.” Fox along with others began to meet to listen to Jesus and then to share with one another what He told them.” They attracted many followers and were strongly persecuted and sent to jail across England. Eventually they were given freedom to worship. The early Quakers were solidly biblical. However, over the centuries many Quaker groups gradually drifted away from biblical faith. Today there are several groups of Quakers, including: * Unprogrammed liberal Quakers who accept just about any belief; * Unprogrammed conservative Quakers who still hold to biblical truth; and * Evangelical Friends Churches that have given up unprogrammed meetings and now base their church meetings on a one man sermon like most other Christian churches do.
It’s a shame they drifted away. I like when a church meeting is more like meeting with good family members and less like going to a facility with faculty and students. Not that Sunday “School” hasn’t always been helpful or attending a message that is more teaching than preaching is wrong but I just mean being able to taking an active part in the sharing, other than singing congregational songs.
Steve, our Sunday Night meetings are great with testimonies and everyone taking an active part in reading scripture but our morning worship is so structured that we follow the same exact format every Sunday and the only people actively involved are people on the program (the person leading the song, the person assigned to read scripture, the usher and the person delivering the sermon).
How can we make it more interactive without freaking people out who are so use to a program and following the format they have followed for years?
Tom: It sounds like you guys are moving in the right direction by opening up the evening meeting. It’s good that the changes in the evening meeting seem to have been accepted. Sometimes there is more resistance to change with Sunday morning meetings. I would suggest moving slowly on Sunday mornings. You could begin by having what I call a “Jesus 12” during the morning meeting. That means allowing just 12 minutes on Sunday mornings for anyone present to share. By only changing 12 minutes of the meeting, perhaps people will be more tolerant of the change. After a while they will begin to get used to the interaction and the time can be gradually expanded.
Please pray that our Corps and Corps Officers will be open to trying this.
Here is another good blog by a fellow Salvationist regarding family and ‘going to church’ http://www.chrisstoker.com/i-went-to-church/
Very good blog post, Tom. I love how it shows that church can be so much more than just passively listening to a religious program!
All too often our church associates fellowship with food and the emphasis is put on what we are going to be eating physically rather than what spiritual food and fellowship we bring to each other for our souls as we gather together. What would you suggest we do to we gain a better focus on the spiritual fellowship than on the physical food?
People don’t want what they haven’t either experienced or visualized. By getting people to visit your Sunday night open sharing meeting, some of them will be touched and want more of it. Others may decide it’s not for them. So the key is getting people to experience it. Another thing is to get them to read about it. Pick one or two of these blog posts and share a link with them. Or print a couple of posts out and pass them out to the people you want to open up to a fresh way of doing church.
I was going to ask you to make video of your meeting then i realized if someone came to one of our night meetings they would see this format. Thank you so much for your suggestions. I have already shared your blog through social media but will also print some out regarding EKKLESIA and this fresh way of meeting together.