Waste of Time

Most church meetings are a waste of time and effort, whether the church is large megachurch or a small house church. Most of the reasons given to justify these meetings are invalid.

  1. Worship. Most Christians think that worship is something we do on Sunday. This is not true. All our lives should be an act of worship. Worship in a large group is an encouraging bonus, but it is not essential.

  2. Teaching. There is nothing in the scriptures to suggest that Christians need to listen to an hour of good teaching each week for the rest of their lives. A new Christian who is serious about following Jesus can be taught the basics of the Christian faith in a few weeks. From there on, they can learn what they need to know by listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. The main purpose of the weekly teaching format is to give the teacher a place to perform.

    If a Christian is stumped by an issue, they can search the scriptures, or look up the answer on the internet. Most modern Christians have had so much teaching that they are choking on it. What they need is a bit more doing, but they will not learn that at a meeting.

  3. Oversight. Most Christians know how to put on a holy mask while they are at a church meeting (I have done it for so many years, I can do it without thinking). The elders responsible for providing oversight generally do not have a clue about what is going on in their day-to-day lives. To offer credible oversight, an elder needs to see how a Christian functions in their family or at work. The best way to get insight into a person's spiritual state is to share with them in some service in the world.

  4. Training. Attendance at meetings trains Christians to be passive. The best training comes in the way Jesus trained his disciples. Take a few people with you into the world to do the Jesus stuff, so they can see how it is done. When they have watched for a while, get them to have a go, dealing with an easy case, with the leader ready to come in and help if things turn to custard. When they are competent, get them to start training others. That will really sharpen their ministry.

  5. Gifts of the Spirit. Some people may only get help when several people move in complementary gifts of the Spirit to get to the bottom of a problem that is holding them back. That could happen at the front of a meeting, but it will usually be less effective, because one superstar will be performing. Good stuff is more likely to happen and be more effective, if a group of Christians friends gather in a friend's living room. The Holy Spirit can really get to work when he has a group of people who love one another to flow through

  6. Learning the Gifts. The front of a meeting is not a good place to learn to operate in the gifts of the Spirit. A better is a place to learn is a friend's home with a few people that are trusted. Once the Christian has learned to move in the gifts, the next step is not to the front of a church meeting, but to go into the world with some friends.

Letter to the Hebrews

Much is made to the reference to meeting together in Heb 10:24,25

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.

The Greek word for "meeting together" is "episunagogue". There is nothing to suggest that the passage only refers to formal meetings. Jesus used the verbal form of this word when saying referring to a hen gathering her chicks together under her wings. It can refer to a formal meeting, but often does not. The author of Hebrews is warning about the dangers of isolation from other believers. He wants Christians to spur each other on. That can happen anywhere, but it rarely happens in big meetings, because people get too much "spurring on" from preachers.

Attend or Follow

When a person comes to faith in Jesus, the standard instruction to the new Christian is to join a good church. The unspoken assumption is that if they attend a church meeting each week, they will be fine (ie meetings save?) But they will not be fine. Millions of Christians have attended meetings for years and years, but remained immature and in ineffective. Issues that should have been resolved in the first few months of following Jesus continue to weigh them down for the rest of their lives.

Better advice would be to tell the new Christian to find someone to follow (this is Pauls approach). If the new Christian has a pastoral nature, they should find someone who is effective in that gifting and follow them around until they have become effective their ministry. If they have an evangelistic calling, they should find an effective evangelist and follow them until they have become an effective evangelist. If the new Christian has a prophetic bent, they should find an effective prophet and follow them until they have learned how to be an effective prophet. If they are confused about their calling, and choose the wrong person to follow, it will soon become clear. They can switch a different person to follow when their calling becomes clear.

Following a more mature Christian is a far more effective strategy for a new Christian wanting to learn the Jesus stuff, than joining a church and attending meetings. We should stop telling new Christians to join a church. Instead, we should say, "Follow me!" or "Follow Fred" or "Follow Freda".

Doing Jesus Stuff

I attended a seminary for three years. We attended a meeting to listen to lectures every day. All I learned was how to preach to a meeting. I did not learn to do the Jesus stuff.

I also learned how to run meetings. After many years in the church, I am good at it. I can run a meeting with one eye closed and both hands tied behind my back, but I am hopeless at doing the stuff that Jesus did in the gospels. Church meetings are full of people like me; who are ineffective and powerless.

We need to break that cycle spiritual poverty before the next generation emerges. It will not happen in meetings. It will only happen when new Christians start following someone who is following Jesus.

Jesus called the twelve people to follow him. They followed him around and learned to do what he was doing. Once they were able to do what he was doing, with him standing watching to pick up the pieces if things went wrong, he sent them out on their own to do it. When they came through on their own, he sent others with them to learn by following.

Stuck in Neutral

When a church has a meeting, it is like a car with the engine running,
but the automatic transmission stuck on N. It sounds impressive, but the car will not go anywhere.