Are Sunday worship services working?
That is the question I’d like to explore over a series of newsletter messages.
This is part 3 and I will share the same introduction as before to stay in context.
Obviously, the ordinance of the sacrament is paramount during worship services, but that is only 10-15 minutes of the meeting schedule.
What about the rest of the schedule?
To set context, let’s take a look at the purposes found in the handbook of each meeting we experience at church on Sunday
I’ll paraphrase for simplicity, and you can read the full purposes at the provided links.
Sacrament Meeting: Take the sacrament, worship, build faith and testimony, conduct ward business. (29.2.1)
Sunday School: Teach doctrine of the kingdom, support all learning and teaching. (13.1)
Relief Society: Save souls, relieve suffering, accomplish the work of salvation and exaltation, serve others, build unity, and learn and live doctrine. (9.1.1)
Elders Quorum: Accomplish the work of salvation, serve others, learn and live doctrine. (8.1.1)
Last week I talked about the dominant influence that church programs have on our Sunday worship services.
The structure and manuals related to these programs make it much easier to fill up the Sunday schedule and it feels like we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.
However, in our effort to get the doctrine and programs right, we miss a foundational item that is necessary for any church community to thrive.
And that is: friendship
I recently read an article by Mike Frost titled, The Lonely Crowd: Churches Dying Due to Friendlessness.
It’s a much more engaging message than this newsletter and should be required reading for all latter-day saint leaders, so I’ll link to it at the bottom of my message. 😊
I know pastors think long and hard about how to be better preachers and leaders, how to calibrate the church’s ministries to meet needs and serve others, how to be more missional, more adaptive, more innovative. These are all good things. But is it possible that all that leadership development, visioning, and ministry planning might be wasted if people can’t find friends and just drift away?
Before hosting any more conferences or seminars on vision-casting, living your best life, or finding your spiritual gift, how about we start equipping people in friendship-making?
You could make a similar statement related to our faith tradition.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, CULTURE EATS DOCTRINE & PROGRAMS FOR BREAKFAST.
Our doctrine and our programs would make any other church jealous, but without first fostering connection and friendship these doctrines and program never have a chance to hit their potential.
But what about ministering? It’s a friendship-making machine!
I love ministering and I have a deep belief that it is inspired from God and given to us through living prophets.
However, it was created as “an important way we keep the commandments to love God and to love our neighbors.” (Handbook 21.0)
Frost says in his article:
Churches are good at running programs and promoting faith. As a result, a lot of church conversations are either about serious matters of faith (Bible studies, workshops, etc.) or focused on the practicalities of volunteering for a ministry or committee.
Ministering is one of these programs that is effective at helping us serve one another but was never meant as the primary model of making friends.
It is more likely for people to become friends and then minister to each other rather than minister to them and become friends.
Frost shares some ideas of how churches can encourage more friendships and I’ll let you read those in the link below.
I’ll also share some ideas in next week’s newsletter.
How have you seen friendship kindled in your ward?
Read Mike Frost’s article HERE.
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