A friend of mine visited a large, famous church on a typical Sunday. The worship band performed with precision. The lighting and fog effects were state of the art. The pastor presented a polished sermon amidst specially built staging.
Later in the week the pastor shared this church’s ministry secrets in a seminar. He described the staff’s single-minded emphasis on excellence—for the Sunday worship services. He shared their internal mantra: “It’s about Sunday, stupid.”
I get the point. For many churches, the Sunday service is the initial introduction for the uninitiated. It’s the main conduit for new members. It’s the only time most churches ever see the majority of their people. It’s the culmination of a week (or more) of staff planning and rehearsing. It’s the main conduit for tithes and offerings.
I get it. But I fear this laser focus on the Sunday service is slowly anesthetizing the church and clouding its real mission. It’s no wonder that many people come to worship for an hour on Sunday and then fail to live their faith once they leave the church building.
I’m afraid it’s too easy for an It’s-About-Sunday-Stupid (I-ASS for short) church staff to begin to shade its mission toward merely filling seats on Sunday morning. That’s not the same as a clear mission to bring individuals closer to Jesus, to transform their lives, to provide relational support for the Body of Christ.
Instead, the I-ASS mentality can send the unfortunate, subtle message that the ministry is really all about the show—and its showmen.
The church is not about the show. It’s not about Sunday. It’s about God—working in and through people—Sunday through Saturday. Everywhere.
We numb our people’s sense of mission and ministry when we imply it’s all about what the staff performs on Sunday morning. The weekly worship service is not the main event. It may be a reflection and a celebration of the main event, which is God at work every day in and through his people. On the job. At home. At school. In the car. On the bus. At the store. On the field.
Rather than cheerleading an I-ASS myopia, it’s time to widen our idea of church, of ministry. It’s time to shift more energy and emphasis into other, broader ways to be faithful to our calling–as the church.
Church is not an hour on Sunday. Faith is not a staged show. Evangelism isn’t the act of parking butts in pews. Discipleship isn’t the process of dispensing oratory to passive spectators.
We don’t “go to church.” We are called to be the church. Every day. Everywhere.