Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Church as Celebration

Our new church community is trying to buy a building and the bank is making them do membership for that. In order to support them, we attended the class (membership would be another good topic for another time).

Last week, I talked about church as community and described how I felt more connected with others during non-large-group gatherings. Interestingly, the meeting addressed this (not my blog directly, of course...). One of the things said is that church is not just Sunday gatherings (y'all have heard me say that for a while). They really emphasized the importance of small groups and that that is where the community is experienced and built.

However, they also said Sundays are important, but not for community. They framed these gatherings are important for celebration. This is a new way of thinking about such gatherings for me. I really like this balance and think it makes a lot of sense. That helps me find those gatherings as being more valuable when I was getting close to giving up on such gatherings...

What do you think?


  1. People who write about church life often make a threefold division of celebration, congregation, and cell. The celebration is the large gathering (usually hundreds or even thousands of people), the congregation is a middle sized group such as the church board, a choir, a group of deacons, a community service group, etc., and the cell is the small face-to-face group.

    At least in theory we need all three to truly experience church. Which would mean that people in house churches might need to at least occasionally gather in some large collective experience of "celebration." And maybe for some congregation with a few other house churches or ministry project. Those who are members of a large church would also need to find some smaller settings (such as a ministry team as well as a cell group) if they really wanted to experience the full dimensions of church.

    I'd be interested in different perspectives on this. Is it possible to fully experience church if you have only one or two of these? Or do we need all three? And where does something like a spiritual director or "soul friend" (spiritual growth partner) fit in? Would that take the place of one of the other layers?


  2. I attended a large church service this last Easter with my son. It was done as an outreach and designed so that church members would invite unchurched friends and neighbors. As I listened to the pastor present the basics of gospel with good, approachable stories. I wondered what it would be like if we just came together to celebrate. I wondered about being part of a community that strives to live into and out of the resurrection every day, so Easter Sunday would just naturally be a celebration of what we are experiencing. Why do we have to justify it or dress it up as outreach or teaching, isn't worship which includes celebration enough reason to come together?

    And, in reference to Cal's comment. I can't think of any biblical or personal "need" to be in a group of hundreds or thousands. I know much of that is personal preference, but what in terms of mission, worship, or community requires such a large group? What among the "one another" statements of the New Testament requires or is enhanced by such a large group all in one place?

  3. Excellent points and comments, Sam! Thanks for your contribution!!



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