I saw this image the other day and chuckled to myself because of frequent conversations I have with people who express similar thoughts about church. “I survived another church service that should have been a podcast,” or “I survived another sermon that should have been me reading the Bible for myself” is essentially the sentiment.
When we make “church” primarily about the one-way delivery of content (messages, music, etc.), many people can leave the experience scratching their heads wondering why they didn’t just watch church on TV or download the podcast. It’s as if they look at our Sunday classes and think, “Hey, I’ll take this class online” (that is if they don’t just drop the class altogether). But is watching church, listening to the podcast, reading a blog post, etc. the same experience? It should not be.
When Jesus’ followers got together, the primary purpose was not the delivery of a one-way message. It was a relational and interactive experience with Him. Likewise the early church was very interactive. It was a place for “one-anothering each other.” Their meetings were referred to as love feasts. The New Testament Church gathering involved multiple teachers teaching one another, eating together in different locations and settings throughout the week, listening to God, and depending on His direct interaction with their lives and assemblies. Simply put, church is and always has been a relational and interactive experiential relationship with the Head, Jesus.
The experience cannot be substituted by an email, podcast or TV program.
What does an interactive church family look like? This is what I hope our simple church community can experience, because I believe that discipleship is not primarily about content delivery but is an interactive endeavor of learning and listening to Jesus as a community. We can keep it simple and focus on building up and encouraging one another in this endeavor, hopefully avoiding the need for a ribbon like the one below.
To be clear, we do not have this all figured out! We are very much just getting started and we would love for you to join us on the journey. If you are in the area, I invite you to join us this weekend for our annual Simple Church Conference to learn how you can take part in God’s interactive family!
Questions to consider:
1. What evidence of an interactive church in the New Testament do you see?
2. What are the unintended consequences of making sermons and “worship sets” the focal point of our primary church gatherings?
3. If church was primarily an interactive experience, what would be the pros and cons for you personally? For the Kingdom?
4. What are some ways we can utilize technology to help people hear from Jesus and deepen their understanding of Him outside our church gatherings?