What's Up With Sundays?

There's an interesting thread over on CMF regarding what Sunday Services are all about. (Sorry, it's in the Coffee Shop, so you have to join to read it.) A brother from Nashville asked this question:

Would you consider your main service (if that's Sunday morning) to be a worship/equipping the saints time? OR, would you say it is geared to attract unchurched?

This wasn't the opening question in the thread, but I think it was a pertinent one. What is the Sunday Service for, and is it the best way to introduce people to your fellowship?

At Gospel Light Community Church, the main channel by which people are invited into the church is not the Sunday Worship service. We are a cell-based church; in other words, we have small groups. These groups are where the majority of people are invited. At GLCC, the adult cells are homogeneous - we have men's cells, women's cells, young (between college and married) cells and young women's cells. Our youth cells are coed, but are separated into college- and high school-aged groups. We even have cells for children, and they are separated by age.

Basically, there are two opportunities to invite:

  • Come to Sunday Service. Come on down to join a large group of people you don't know (who all know each other very well), listen to some songs you don't know (which we all know), be sure you dress right (not to casual, not to dressy), listen to the message (which you really don't understand because you haven't even picked up a bible in years - isn't that why you're here?) and then be sure to stand up when we call your name (we love visitors!) and then hang around uncomfortably after, standing next to the person who invited you who wants to introduce you to the pastor. Or....
  • Come to cell. Come over to my house (I know you from work) and we'll ride over together. Wear whatever you want. Meet a couple of nice men (women, youth....) who really are interested in who you are. Have some coffeee, and we're going to talk about (insert subject here) and how it relates to each of us. Do you have any experience with that situation? Did you know there is a scripture about that? (Here, look on with me, or better yet, here is a bible for you.) We're going to sing a song, here are the words. Don't mind how badly we sing. Do you know anything about Jesus? It was great seeing you here, we'd love to have you back next week. Here, have some cake.

We've found much greater fruit with the second approach. Not to say that inviting people to Sunday service is a bad thing - it's not. Hopefully, there is a process in place to make visitors feel welcome. But can they really get over the fact that they are visitors? By the time someone has been coming to cell for a few weeks, and is venturing into a Sunday service, they feel at least that they are part of some part of the church.

I don't mean to minimize the impact of traditional program-based churches, because I know a lot that have brough a lot of people to Christ. There are some big ones, so I know that someone is going. But getting away from religion and getting into relationship is so important. We like to get down to one-on-one, give people Jesus and the Bible. We don't sugar coat sin (or the cross), but somehow it's easier, I think, when someone is just talking to you instead of talking at you (and a hundred other people)

I was a Roman Catholic for most of my life, so I get the religion thing. It took a brother to sit down with me and hash out the details, where I was, my objections, my struggles - one on one - before I came to really know who Christ was. That would have never happened in a Sunday service.

So what do you do? Is Sunday the main evangelistic venue for your church or fellowship, or are you doing something different? Let's share and build.


  1. Mike, as you're aware, we are currently part of 2 churches, transitioning from one to the other. Neither church has Sunday as the main 'life' centre:

    The community church (BCC) has its life in small groups, and this is where most of the fellowship, learning, discipleship and pastoral care takes place.
    The main evangelistic thrust of BCC is through Alpha, although there is constant personal outreach. People are invited both to bigger meetings and housegroups.

    The chapel has its main meeting on a Thursday night, with a shorter 'family' service on a Sunday. They do not have small groups yet, although they have tried them but not found a successful arrangement. This church is currently headed by someone who is primarily an evangelist, and the task here is not to open the front door but to close the back one. Ian just reaches out to people wherever he is, but they don't stay.

    For me, the key thing is to reach people wherever they are and then build them into a fellowship.

  2. Michael,
    for us at Cambridge Drive it is about worshiping and equipping the saints. At the same time, I want it to be accessible to anyone who shows up so we try to make it as friendly as possible.

    One thing that is important to me though... many of these discussions imply that Sunday morning isn't an important time. For me, it is the most important time and I put a good part of my week into planning for it and building the service. For many of the members, it will be the only time I will see them during the week and for some it will be the most significant encounter with the scriptures - obviously that is not optimal but it is reality. And there may be an unchurched person wh shows up some Sunday... so, I take that time very, very seriously.

  3. @Toni: Bro, I certainly know you're walking the walk. At BCC, it sounds like your doing things the way I'm describing. Hopefully, the chapel will find a model that works for them. Personal interaction is so important.

    @Roy: I hop I don't sound like Sunday is unimportant. Sunday is the center of my week, as it is for most of us at Gospel Light. It's when we get built up, when we share fellowship and encouragement - an when I get to plug the amp in! But it's not the main evangelistic push - that's where the cells come in.

    Thanks guys!

  4. Michael, I didn't mean to imply that you are denigrating the role of Sunday worship... but I have heard some do that


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