Thursday, December 08, 2005

Churches closed on Christmas Day?

In the past 24 hours there has been a minor blogswarm spawned by a number of large USA churches who have chosen to not offer services Sunday, December 25, 2006 - Christmas Day. Tim Challies writes about it HERE, Phillip Ryken writes about it and quotes David Wells HERE, and David Wayne (Jollyblogger) writes about it HERE. I responded on the following:

Every day is the Lord's day, not just Sunday from 8:00am-Noon. So I think if a church is putting it's efforts into it's Christmas Eve service, then chooses to not have their regular services the next day, that's fine. I realize I'm in the minority here (on this board) but it's not just mega-churches that are doing this. Small 200 person churches similar to mine are doing it as well. Is God less honored by those church's meeting Saturday evening?

And in the case of Willow Creek, it's not as though their congregation is not being fed spiritually this particular week (though some argue rarely are they being fed...). Willow's meat and potato service is Wednesday nights. That is when they do their teaching to believers. Sunday services are outreach services, for their seekers.

When I came to Seminary three years ago (wow that's a long time...) I had a friend/co-worker who posed to me the question of why Christian Churches meet primarily on Sunday? He asked a number of related questions, like is there anything wrong with groups who meet Saturday for instance, is one day better to God than the other and many more I no longer remember. He was asking/seeking out of genuine spirit, and I shared with him my belief that EVERY day is God's day, and that we are called to honor and glorify Him each and every day. We are also called to meet as a body of believers and share in community, but that our doing that is not limited to Sunday mornings from 8:00 am to Noon. I gave him some historical background info as to why Sunday is often the preferred day, but I also cited how in other parts of the world that Sunday is not the practiced day of worship, even for Christians. While I respect the opinion of Tim, David and Phillip, on this subject I have to disagree with them.


BTB said...

Right on Chris. Way to stand in the fire for awhile. And way to work the words blogswarm into a post. Keep it up.

Ant said...

I agree you on this. Well done for sticking your head above the parapit! I haven't read through all that has been said on Challies and co (haven't got the time right now!) but you've summed the essentials up for me.

mrclm said...

Thanks for stopping in Ant! I do think in some places the criticism might be warrented, but not to the overblown extent some have taken this to. For the most part I think the churches are right in this, and beyond that, I believe in local church autonomy.

Big Chris

justin said...

My thoughts about this are just that it seems strange to me that a body of believers who does choose to have their regular meetings and worship on Sundays would cancel that worship time in light of the day that we celebrate thr birth of who we are worshipping. I believe in local church autonomy as well, but that does not mean that whatever churches decide to do is right. They of course have the right to make their own decisions about their services, but the rest of the body of Christ also has a responsibility to speak up and confront them when they see beliefs or practices that trouble them.

mrclm said...

Thanks for stopping by! I'll illustrate a single (big) example of a church that this blog swarm has focused on - Willow Creek Community Church in South Barington, IL. Willow is a church I'm sure you (and many others) have heard of. Willow is not having Sunday services. Sunday is the time they do their outreach. This IS NOT when they do their indepth teaching for the edification and education of existing believers. Their congregation IS meeting at their regular times for teaching, which is Wednesday night. In many other churches, where they do not have Saturday night services, they are for Christmas. They have moved their service ahead 12 hours. This hasn't fundamentally changed the function of the church by doing this. If the same church decided to meet 2 hours later, you wouldn't say boo, it wouldn't even make the news. People are making a stink about nothing (for the most part). It is possible some church somewhere is doing this for the wrong reason, but I think the majority are reasonable in making this their choice.

Big Chris