Wednesday, February 06, 2008
An alternative structure
I have been doing some thinking about the two reasons for most churches weekly coming together for a worship service. One main reason is the preaching from the Bible. A second main reason is the coming together as the "Body of Christ" a time when we are all together. At the moment, the typical church's focus is the former, preaching from the Bible. Therefore those who would in any way interfere with that reason would be excluded. The second reason should cause us to change our programs in such a way that all people could be included. The coming together is the priority. It seems on some levels that these two reasons can be mutually exclusive. It is difficult to do traditional worship and preaching if people are present who are noisy or disruptive, and how can we be the body if not all members of the body are permitted to be present. It seems, therefore, that there needs to be some new structure, or variation on existing structures that needs to be created. Because the time of preaching will typically hit the majority of the church population it needn't be changed as a way of sharing the Bible. In even the most inclusive settings, not every class that includes the teaching of the Bible would be relevant to every church member. There would no doubt be differentiations among classes such that knowledge is accessible for all the membership. It is important to recognize that a structure like the typical preaching part of the typical worship service will remain a significant means of facilitating growth in knowledge about the Bible.
The change that needs to occur, therefore is that there needs to be a structure in which all people could be included, and this could be called the meeting of the body, or corporate worship, or whatever would be the most meaningful. It might precede the typical preaching, but be separated by a time during which those who do not necessarily benefit from the preaching can attend programs where they will be fed. There is a stigmatization associated with groups of disabled adults exiting the traditional service prior to the sermon. Perhaps the worship service could be divided into at least two parts: one is meeting as a group for the purpose of the body being together, and the other being a time of sharing from the Bible that hits most of the people in the congregation, with simultaneous other opportunities for Bible study that are designed to facilitate understanding for specific groups.