My last article focused on the 5 trends to watch in the missional community conversation this year. These trends are not necessarily changes to the missional community and church conversation, they are the result of the local church wrestling deeply with how to live missionally as a community to their context.
Today, we’ll focus on Trend #1: Re-Valuing of Sunday as Missional
Missional Reaction Against Sundays
The missional community conversation has largely been dominated by an emphasis on community life over Sunday gatherings. This is a corrective response to the over-emphasis that has existed for years on the Sunday gathering as the only means of discipleship.
The failure of the over-emphasis on Sundays was not seeing the gospel of Jesus Christ for all of life. In reaction, the missional community conversation sought to lift up community life where it had been neglected and doing so often at the detriment to Sundays.
But the over-emphasis had unnecessary consequences. God designed corporate worship as much He designed community life as a means of grace for the church and the world. Neglecting the gathering of the saints is a missed opportunity to redirect the worship of the world to One who is worthy of worship. It also missed the opportunity to cultivate Sunday gatherings as a space for believers to be inspired and non-believers to be exposed to the truth of the gospel.
There is a growing desire to let the missional identity of a church be expressed in every environment and to re-value Sundays as missional.
What would it look like to re-value Sundays as missional?
The idea of the missional church is to exist for the advance of God’s Kingdom in the lives of every individual to see the beauty of the gospel manifested in every corner of the world. The majority of our lives are spent outside the walls of a church so this must be our aim, but Sunday worship gatherings play a huge role in creating a missional church. Re-valuing Sundays involves a missional liturgy and an attractive vision for all.
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The word liturgy can tend to have bad connotations. My first experience with a liturgy appeared to be merely rote readings and a monotone homily at a mass. The readings seemed true, but there was a lack of passion and care for the truth accompanied with them. My natural bent was to blame the liturgy as too rigid and formulaic to be able to truly cause worship that inspires people toward God. I wanted nothing to do with liturgy as a result and I am not alone.
The missional church and many other evangelical churches have chosen to cast out liturgical elements as unimportant in the formation of a community. This is a missed opportunity for the church.
A missional liturgy involves music, movements, and a message that invites everyone to know God, turn from their old ways of life, and find the joys of a new life in the gospel of Jesus Christ.A missional liturgy involves music, movements & a message that invites everyone to know God & find joy in the gospel.
The music brings us truth of the character of God, a reminder of our own sin and need for God, and the provision of Jesus Christ. Movements like corporate confessions of repentance or assurance, weekly communion, and benedictions serve as unifying moment for the congregation to speak truth, practice the gospel, and receive the blessings of God together.
While these are easy additional elements to introduce into the community, the more difficult is to articulate the message of God’s word in a way that engages and educates non-believers while inspiring faithful believers. A missional church longs to see their Sunday gatherings filled with non-believing skeptics who have a number of questions about God and life just as they desire their missional communities to be filled with the same.
The message either empowers believers to invite their co-workers, friends, and family if they trust there will be no condemnation and a skeptic’s thoughts will be respected and engaged or it prohibits invitations to others out of fear that a skeptic’s thoughts of the church will be confirmed by a message that doesn’t care for or engage them at all.
This empowerment comes if there is a consistent, attractive vision for all and especially for the faithful believers.
Attractive Vision for All especially Believers
When Jesus communicated the truths of God’s word, He spoke in a way that everyone could understand, be engaged, and be intrigued by a vision of life that surpassed the cultural vision of their day. We have the opportunity to do the same.
The power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the ability to meet the needs of every person, fulfill their longings while freeing them from temporary and fleeting desires, lifestyles, and hopes that ultimately fail them. The scriptures all point to this power and each passage is an opportunity to cast the vision God has for every person in their lives.
Blaise Pascal shared that his method for evangelism was this aim. He said,
Men despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true. The cure for this is first to show that religion is not contrary to reason, but worthy of reverence and respect. Next make it attractive, make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is.
What a beautiful task for the preacher to see the greatness of Christianity in the gospel and herald this beauty to others.
How do we re-value Sundays as missional?
Now, you may be asking this question and wondering if your Sunday gatherings reflect the missional vision you have for community life. Below are some diagnostic questions for you to pray through, discuss with your community, and seek to rescue Sundays for the mission of God.
– How have we devalued Sundays instead of making it missional?
– Do non-believers feel respected and engaged by our message and liturgy? Or is it too much insider language?
– How can our music, message and worship elements engage all who attend?
– Is the vision we share on Sundays attractive to our church family and our neighbors?
The re-valuing of Sunday gatherings as missional is a re-valuing of the power of the gospel in all its forms.The re-valuing of Sunday gatherings as missional is a re-valuing of the power of the gospel in all its forms. @logangentry