I’ve read a couple of books lately that have made the passionate case that the Sunday morning worship time(s) is the most important thing a church does and they should throw as much time, money, and resources at it as they can. Take these quotes from one of these books:
“The most valuable sixty to ninety minutes of the week are the minutes when your congregation is sitting in the pews or chairs in your auditorium.”
“Sunday morning should be the most important thing you do all week. Everything else you and your staff are involved in should be subordinate to the Sunday service. Anything that is competing with or taking away from Sunday needs to be eliminated.”
“The weekend worship experience is your bread and butter. It will either limit or leverage your influence. Put as much time, energy, and money as possible into it!
I’ve been hearing this kind of rhetoric for a long time. People like to throw out the old, “do everything as though you’re doing it to the Lord,” and “we need a worship experience that brings glory to God.” I agree with both of those statements, yet I find myself grating against the kind of rhetoric I quoted above. Is spending a large portion of your budget on technology, buildings, and promotion of an hour a week really doing everything as unto the Lord? See, excellence is held up as the most important thing here, and we certainly shouldn’t try to be poor in the things we do, but we can be excellent without ever having the Holy Spirit to show up. As I read these books it seems that the motivation behind the call for excellence is more to keep people coming back than it is to please God.
In reality I have a very hard time believing Jesus would agree that one hour a week on Sunday is the most important thing out of the whole week. That mentality has produced the crisis of compartmentalized and fragmented faith we have in so much of American Christendom. That one hour on Sunday can be a great and important part in the life of the faith of people and the local church. But doesn’t saying this is far and away the most important thing tell the people populating the pews that if they are there for that they’re pretty much good? There’s more, and it would be nice if their faith was just as serious Monday morning as it was Sunday morning, but if not at least they’re there for the most important hour of the week.
There has to be a way to move past this kind of thinking without people (and especially pastors) thinking the Sunday morning service is under siege. Until we figure this out I fear we’ll reap the same problems as we sow the same old seed.