Why Do Churches Have Sunday Services?

What is their purpose?


It is Sunday morning(!) or (.) What does that morning mean to you?  Just another morning of the week?  Or as a church person, does it meaning going to a Sunday morning Mass or a Sunday morning Worship Service? 

Some would justify it as a time for God’s people to meet corporately. I ask, “To do what?”

“To worship the Lord.” To which I reply, “How”?

How much does “God’s people”, alias Joe Average Christian, participate in the service?  Is the service really about Joe, or his spiritual journey that week, or his needs in growing into the likeness of Jesus Christ, or his need to fellowship with the saints? Or is it about the institution, the traditions, and the distinctive tenants of that group’s faith that makes them different from the rest of the Body of Christ, or what has been planned and now implemented by the staff?

Some feel Sunday morning is a time to “bring in the lost” and give them the “evangelistic” message of the Gospel, or good news; some feel it is a time to “feed My sheep”; some feel it is a time to minister to the needs of the sick and afflicted through prayer and the laying on of hands; some feel it is a time to sing with hymnals, overhead projection, or power point presentations, or to listen to others sing in the choir, worship teams, or special music.

Is it a time to read a bulletin to see the social and ministerial events the church offers that week, or to take notes of the sermon on the back, or fill in the sheet as an added insert while the sermon is being given, or as I did as a kid (and I still find myself doing when bored), “fill in the empty space in the  “e’s”, “a’s”, and “o’s” with a pencil or pen. No it’s not about reading the bulletin, because there is an “announcement” section of the service to reiterate everything that is in the bulletin under the assumption that you don’t read your bulletin anyhow! If that is the truth, then why did we get one in the first place?

Is it a time to “meet and greet” for five minutes or less, “Hi, glad you’re here (but I will never see you again this week, unless we both come back here next week and sit beside each other and do this same ritual again).

What is the purpose of this service? I have often asked this to church leaders who give me some of the lame answers above, or aren’t sure themselves. What is the target, the objective, of the service? What is supposed to get accomplished during the service? Who is to participate? Who is allowed to participate in what and how? Is there an evaluation of the service? (Yes, over the dinner tables Sunday noon by the congregation, and over business tables by the staff Tuesday mornings!)  What does anyone in the pew remember about the service a month later unless it was the same-old, same-old. They remember the repetition, but specifics? The pastor says, “Do you remember last month when I preached about ____, and the parishioners smile as if they did, but will not admit it has been lost in the recesses of trivial meaningless!

What did Joe Average Christian have to do to “prepare” for the Sunday service, to “participate” in the Sunday Service, and “take with him to walk out for the rest of the week” from the Sunday Service?  Maybe we should ask, “What is the purpose of our Sunday Service?” or better yet, maybe we should ask, “What or how does the Holy Spirit want to edify Jesus Christ this Sunday through all and in all who gather in Jesus’ name?”

The early church gathered at the temple to do what they always did at the temple, even while Jesus was with them, but all that changed at Pentecost when they began to do “different things”, to the point the public thought them drunk.  They gather, but are later forced to scatter because of persecution, and they break way from Temple worship (which also physically gets destroyed) and begin to worship in different cultures and environments with “Gentiles” who mess up this whole Neo-Jewish movement called Christianity.  The Spirit helps us to break away from our Temple (Church building) mentality, to scatter to fulfill the Great Commission, and to reach others (the gentiles of our generation) with the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Let’s allow the Holy Spirit orchestrate our Sunday’s together through His people. Sunday mornings should be about the gathering of the Saints, those who believe in Jesus Christ, and their obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leading.