Re-Thinking Sunday Gatherings
Have you ever thought about why we do what we do on Sunday morning?
Many of you know that for the longest time I (Michael) fought against us even meeting on Sunday. I wanted to avoid the mindset that church is what we do on Sunday or that church is a place or service we go to, neither of which are consistent with the New Testament (and both of which are common misconceptions in our culture). However, in order for us to accomplish all that we felt like the Lord was laying on our hearts to accomplish as a gospel family, it soon became necessary for us to find a regular time to gather together, and Sunday seemed like the time that worked best for everyone's schedule.
So now we gather most Sunday mornings at the Clinton YMCA. My guess is, if you've ever attended one of our Sunday gatherings, it feels different than the church you grew up in. So back to the original question - why do we do what we do on Sunday mornings?
Glad you asked. When we first started discussing what Sundays with Arise may look like, there were at least 3 key values we wanted to carry over to our Sunday Gatherings:
1. Our Sunday Gatherings must be relational.
We believe that church is a family. We are brothers and sisters, adopted by God the Father, and made family by the gospel. Therefore, when we all get together, it ought to feel like getting together with your family. We always have breakfast because eating together is something we often do at family gatherings, especially in the South. There's no countdown clock because that would be awkward at a family gathering. We sometimes don't start on time, especially if we know there's a family member coming that's running a little late.
I always know who the guests are at our Sunday Gatherings because normally they're the ones who walk into the room and immediately find their seat. Rather than just coming in and sitting down, we like to use the time before "the service" starts to catch up on each other's week and weekend. Of primary importance is our relationship with God. However, the second greatest commandment is to love each other. We want to make sure we leave time in our gathering to do that well.
2. Our Sunday Gatherings must be conversational.
Just because "the service" starts doesn't mean the conversation has to end. Rather, this is when our conversation gets really focused. Think about a normal gathering with your family. It would be awkward if once everyone sits around the table only one person did all the talking. Yet, that's what happens in many churches throughout our country.
Rarely will you ever hear a 30 minute monologue at one of our Sunday Gatherings. Instead the teacher often ask questions or encourages group discussion. We also encourage you to ask questions. When I teach, I want to be as interruptible as possible so that if you have a question about something we're discussing or need to dig a little deeper, you have the freedom to do so.
3. Our Sunday Gatherings must be intentional.
We believe strongly that the purpose of the church is to make disciples who in turn are able to make other disciples. When we meet together on Sundays, we typically have two purposes: 1) to teach and encourage us to cherish the gospel and abide in Christ, and 2) to equip us to live out the gospel in our everyday lives so that we can in turn go and equip others. It's not just about what happens on Sunday, but we want you to take all of that with you wherever you go throughout your week.
I hope this gives you some insight into why we do what we do. As always, feel free to ask if you ever have a question. If you're reading this and have never been to one of our Sunday Gatherings, we'd love to have you. We meet on Sunday morning at the YMCA. We'll start around 10:30 but come early for breakfast and to meet some of our people. Hopefully this helps you understand at least a little bit of why we do what we do.