My Views On “Doing Church”

I love Jesus. I really do – ever since I came to believe on Him when I was 20 years old. I am ever grateful for what He did for me at Calvary. So don’t get me wrong when I say this: sitting “in church” and listening to someone speak a monologue is verrrry hard for me. I tune out, I lose track, I get distracted, I get tired, I get frustrated, I write random notes that have nothing to do with what the speaker is saying, and I long to share my thoughts and to ask questions as one would do in dialogue.

It has bothered me for years that the way of modern “church” is to have one person stand up and give their speech for often upwards of an hour. From my own reading of the Bible, that doesn’t sit right with me (no pun intended). But I “go to church” sometimes anyway, to see some of the people I love.

Yesterday, I went to church. And I got to thinking, as I often do, about the way modern day church is “done”. I wondered if anyone else has these thoughts, and so I googled. I found this article, which says a lot about how I feel. It also provided some points of which I’d not thought, and into which I want to look further.

There is more I could say, but I will share the link, in case anyone would like to read it. I hope there are others who feel this way.

Where Did The Christian Sermon Come From?

And here is another link along the same line:

Problems and Limitations of the Traditional “Sermon” Concept

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One thought on “My Views On “Doing Church”

  1. The linked article is a bit odd.

    First, it uses anecdotal stories to paint the early Church with a broad brush (e.g., that John Chrysostom was trained in rhetoric by a pagan DOES NOT equate to Patristic teaching as being a pagan practice!).

    Second, it begs the question “What was earliest church doing in its gatherings?” but fails to answer– and the answer is easy– and seems to be clearly discussed in one of his unnamed sources (the Didiche– which also mention itinerant preachers who, if the ask for money, are false prophets).

    Third, it falsely presumes that the earliest Church was not associated with the synagogue. It was, and the prayers still used by non-protestant churches are recognizably adapted from Hebrew worship.

    The Church Fathers he mentions in the Third Centuries were not preaching, they were writing. They addressed the faith as apologists (reasoning) against pagans, and against mistakes and controversy which had cropped up in and between the teachings of local churches, by local clergy. These men were well-educated Christian theologians, most were Bishops, and their responsibilities included (still do!) preserving the teaching of the Apostles and eye-witness before anything had been set in the Gospels..

    As we know from the Acts of the Apostles, the earliest Church “continued in the Apostles teachings, the breaking of bread, and the prayers.” Those teachings had not yet been written. The breaking of bread is a reference to the Eucharist, and the prayers are those familiar with the worship in the synagogue– sill are in non-protestant denominations.

    The ordained clergy was not a late concept but existed from the beginning (it is scriptural) and was coincident with the short-lived itinerant preachers the author mentions The selection of a replacement for Judas, the selection of a Deacon to serve, the laying on of hands of Timothy, Paul’s outline of qualifications for Bishops and Deacons, etc., all speak to the unbroken practice of laying on of hands to successors of the apostles and for other ministry from which the four-fold structure of Bishops, Priests, Deacons and laity derived.

    Late Second Century liturgies (including the Eucharist and Ordination) still exist in written form, along with discussion of variations (Hippolytus, as one example). The previously mentioned Didiche also includes mention of the Eucharist within the worship of the First Century Church.

    Finally, the Patristic period,(a.k.a., “Fathers”) were not a Fourth Century development as mentioned in the article, but is generally considered to be ended during the Fourth Century and begun at the death of the Apostle, John. The author is 300 years off.

    While not as much as we would like, we know a lot about the most ancient Church, its beliefs, its practice in worship, its structure, and its concerns. That includes an awareness that it really is NOT open to suggest that preaching came to be the center of Christian worship by adoption of a pagan practice.

    Rather, it is quite clear that preaching became central within the protestant churches fifteen hundred years later, because the mystical (Eucharist and other sacramental practices and teachings) were discarded– so the Bible, newly translated and printed into the vernacular, and preaching on it were all that remained of the ancient practices.

    I hope that helps. Hey, that masters degree in theology included Church history and much reading of those ancient documents. It is nice to use it now and then!

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