Saving Sunday

Before the megachurch, the primary focus on Sundays was discipleship. The church existed primarily for the members. And when the church becomes focused on its members, it easily turns into denominational clubs.

Insulated

Isolated

Ineffective

Dying

As church attendance declined, the mission of the church was in jeopardy. Something had to be done.

Megachurches

As a response to the lack of evangelism in most churches, many Evangelical churches moved to a “seeker-sensitive” model of church. This model focuses on creating a Sunday service that appeals to “seekers”. Seekers were originally thought of as people who are seeking an ambiguous faith in their lives.

In reality, the “seekers” that ended up filling these churches were not people seeking faith, but people seeking a different church. In other words, these were not “converts”, these were Christians who didn’t like the style of the churches they were attending.

This led to the rise of the megachurch (2,000+ regular attendance). With the rise of the megachurch, Sundays became focused primarily on evangelism.

Churches became institutionalized. You could even call it the Local Church Industrial Complex. There was a focus on buildings and budgets and strategies. Churches started to be run more like businesses.

There is now a shift happening once again. Primarily, this is in response to Sundays being focused on evangelism. As expected, the shift on Sunday mornings is back towards discipleship.

What Is Sunday For?

The question that remains through all of this is…..what is the purpose of the Sunday service? Should Sunday mornings be about evangelism or discipleship? Well……both.

Jesus called us to make disciples (Matthew 28:19) and the first step in discipleship is evangelism. So, in a technical sense, Sunday morning should be about both. There is an important difference, though. Evangelism does not include discipleship, but discipleship does include evangelism. The problem was not that the early Evangelical church focused on discipleship, but that the disciples in those churches did not evangelize.

I would argue that evangelism is supposed to be carried out by the disciples of Jesus, not the worship service.

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13

Sunday Is The Huddle

Sunday morning should be the huddle, not the game. The huddle is where the team gets together to encourage each other and come up with the game plan. Sunday morning is where the followers of Christ get together to encourage each and other and make plans to spread the love of Jesus Christ to everyone.

And, of course, that means that people can come to church on Sunday morning and make a decision to follow Christ. In a healthy church, that should happen.

But the typical Evangelical church will spend this week putting the majority of their time, money, effort, focus, planning and prayers on the Sunday morning service.

Not helping the poor

Not caring for orphans and widows

Not showing love to their community

Not equipping God’s people to the work of the ministry

No, most churches this week will focus on creating the kind of Sunday service that will entertain, attract those who don’t normally come to church; a service that people will think is cool.

We should be striving to make disciples and equip them during the huddle to reach the people around them during the week and then bring them to the church to get baptized and to learn to be a good disciple. The circle continues from there.

This process is like a flywheel. It will take an incredible amount of work for the first couple of turns, but once you get it turning, the momentum will do most of the work.

As a church, our focus should be to equip the followers of Christ to do the work of serving and healing the world. That is where most of our time should be spent each week.

It’s the only way to save Sundays.

About Matthew Thisse

Matthew Thisse is a Jesus follower, single father, associate pastor, and corporate trainer. He is a former Evangelical and a failed fundamentalist.

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