Mike Cope's blog

Sunday, October 17, 2004

A Sunday morning reading from Dan Kimball: Most people view the weekend worship service as a place where we go to get service done to us by "getting our tanks filled up" at the service station. It's a place where someone will give a sermon and serve us with our weekly sustenance. In automobile terms, you could say it is our weekly fill-up. We come to our service station to have a song leader serve us by leading us in singing songs. All so we can feel good when we emotionally connect through mass singing and feel secure that we did "worship." We go to the weekend service and drop off our kids--that way they too can get served by having their weekly fill-ups. We are especially glad that our weekend service station now serves coffee in the church lobby--it's as convenient as our automobile service stations' little mini-mart. . . . The description of a church gathering in 1 Corinthians 14:26-27 says: "What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church." This was not "come together to sit and receive" like at a gas station. This was everyone gathering to offer service to God and others in worship. The gathering was not primarily about meeting the needs of the individual, but centered on the worship of God and the strengthening of the whole church.


  • It's ironic that today it is hard to find a "full serve" gas station and yet the church is becoming more and more that way. Which is fine if the people who "pull in" to the church drive away with a sense of mission and go spend their fuel for the sake of others. But so often we don't. We drive the sedans and SUVs of our souls all week focused on the mission of "me" and then with weary windows and empty tanks we pull back in next week hoping that the worship is good because we "need a fill up". What we fail to realize is that it is only by emptying ourselves for others and the Call that we are filled.

    I thought I'd share a portion of an email I receive weekly from Dan's church in Santa Cruz that is right on target with this concept of serving others:

    This Sunday, we will be continuing our series in the book of Acts “Be The Church”. Dan will be back teaching and look into what the Scriptures have to say about social justice and how helping those in need in our community is essential to growing in our faith and intimacy with God. Throughout the Scriptures, we see that being a disciple of Jesus means looking out to the needs of others. And as a church we want to see our involvement in community service and social justice as part of who we are, a very essential part of our identity as a church. Dan will be walking through some passages about this as well as having a few people from our community sharing about how serving others in need has impacted them. Because of this desire as a church to be getting people involved with outreach into the community, we will be cutting the gathering a bit short and giving everyone a chance to visit various tables that will be set up inside the worship center to learn more about a bunch of local organizations (both Christian-based and non-Christian-based) who are serving those in need in this area.

    One of the major goals of this night is to have the VFC Community Groups each adopt one of these organizations, (or if your group is big, maybe need to split and adopt two different ones) and then to be using one of your meetings every 6 weeks to be serving in the community. Those in a community group should plan to meet up Sunday night and walk around the tables that will be there and determine what organization your group feels like they would want to adopt. We want to get back to the organizations within 2 weeks after this Sunday night with the names of the group leaders and who will be serving etc. so, please make sure if you haven’t already, to be talking about this in your groups and be ready to be looking at the organizations there (people from each org will actually be there at the tables to answer questions) and then within 2 weeks, to decide as a group which one you want to serve at!

    Thanks Mike for a great post and may God help us pull into the service station of sacrifice instead of the convenience center of consumerism.

    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 10/17/2004 05:23:00 AM  

  • Read this article for more on how the Western church has often missed the mark: http://www.cmaresources.com/articles/abride_revived.asp

    Be blessed.

    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 10/17/2004 03:51:00 PM  

  • What would happen if everyone left their "persona" at the door?

    By Blogger David Michael, at 10/17/2004 08:20:00 PM  

  • The purpose of the church remains the same through the ages, but in so many aspects the form does not. When Kimball juxtaposes what happened in Corinth with what happens today, I think he takes the reader down a road of New Testament interpretation that leads to the impossible predicament of bringing all possible first century forms for church activity into an extremely different culture that is light years from the first century in its forms, religious and secular. While many cell groups function the way the Corinthian form functioned, I do not for one second feel bad about filling up my gas tank on Sundays, for I need it. The road that God drives with me on between fill-ups is filled with numerous, sometimes exhaustive, one-on-one encounters with people who need a good word in their days or a good action from me in helping with their loads. God is certainly not limited in the number of forms he presents to a person who wants to walk with Him.

    By Blogger WDS, at 10/17/2004 09:15:00 PM  

  • "While many cell groups function the way the Corinthian form functioned, I do not for one second feel bad about filling up my gas tank on Sundays..."

    Nor should you (feel bad). The purpose of meeting together weekly is for edification and encouragement (NOT worship, as many Western churches incorrectly surmise). In an atmosphere of mutual building up and encouragement through the exercising of "each member's gifts," being filled up is inevitable. I am a member of a Corinthian-modeled house church, and I am filled up every time I'm there. Not by great worship songs or an eloquent sermon (we have neither!), but by the fellowship we experience around the dinner table, taking the Lord's Supper in all its wonder just like Christ and the disciples did it, and the knowledge that everyone in the tiny living room is fighting for my heart on their knees during the week.

    Problems arise, however, when Christians attempt to slip in and fill up without filling others up. This brand of selfish fill-up is what Paul addresses in I Corinthians 11 and 12, the chapters of the Bible that all too often get used in a context-less and selfish way! Even our set-up in the institutional church doesn't foster the community the Acts church demonstrates and Paul calls for in his letters -- when no difference exists between going to church and going to a movie, something's wrong. We must recognize that true Christian community is at the heart of God's plan for the church's meetings, and that anything that hinders the desire of God's heart must be re-evaluated.

    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 10/17/2004 10:43:00 PM  

  • I love that you talked about Dan and this topic! I love Emerging Worship and have been talking about this very issue for the last several months. Thanks for posting this. I am pumped about what's happening at Highland too.

    By Blogger Brandon Scott, at 10/18/2004 08:49:00 AM  

  • Mike, Thanks so much for this! What an encouragement! Especially for those of us who are expected to be the "fillers." God bless!

    By Blogger CL, at 10/19/2004 01:17:00 PM  

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