Have you ever thought about why Church in America is set up the way it is? We design Church as if we were going to the theater for a movie, or to the stadium for a baseball game. The reality is, our lives are jam-packed with theater-based experiences because we have deemed it the best way to be entertained. However, if we go back to the Bible and explore the meaning of gathering together on Sunday morning, we might find that the traditional theater-based method for Sunday services leaves something to be desired.
Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
In Hebrews, the author paints a picture of people gathering together to worship the Lord. However, the people in this example are not simply faithful onlookers. No, in these verses a picture is painted where those in attendance make an active contribution to those around them.
Recently, I had the awesome opportunity to visit Raglan Road, an Irish Pub in Orlando, Florida. The place is a must try if you like Irish food. Even though I am Irish through-and-through, I will admit it’s not easy to make Irish food very tasty; however, somehow Raglan Road figured it out. Nonetheless, my experience in Orlando wasn’t noteworthy because of the food. No, my experience was marked by the incredible atmosphere put forth by the design of the building. When you visit Raglan Road, you are entertained by a traditional Irish band and skilled Irish dancers. However, you might be interested to know that restaurant boasts not one, but two separate stages. They have a stage in the front and then a small stage in the middle which is surrounded by tables where everyone sits together, having a good time laughing and joking into the late evening hours. The musicians play from the stage in front, but nobody really notices they are there. Instead everyone is sitting at tables together, as the dancers do a formal Irish jig in the middle of the restaurant.
I left Raglan Road yearning for more. I wondered why the Church had failed for years to capture this kind of atmosphere – an atmosphere where a Church could still certainly put together a great quality service with incredible worship and a strong message. However, simply by the design of this building, the service could transform into an atmosphere where people come together to challenge, encourage, pray with, and discuss their journey with Christ from the week before. As we discussed mission in an earlier post, the Church really shouldn’t be a place where we feed ourselves week to week simply to maintain spiritual nutrition. No, Church should be a spiritual headquarters where we all come to equip for the mission before us in the week ahead. It is time we became more deliberate about fostering authentic Christian gatherings that nurture a new type of Christian community. If we do that, we forget about securing our favorite pew come Sunday morning and we instead grab our coffee as if we are going to the Pub to converse with friends and prepare for the week ahead.