The one-hour church

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Hafidha Sofia (Never Say Never To Your Traveling Self) wrote today about a simplified approach to worship; doing so, she jogged loose something specific that's been rolling around my head for a couple of weeks and appealing to some convictions I've had for years: we put too much into Sunday worship.

I forgot which blogger had a link to The Freeway, a Salvation Army related church in Hamilton, Ontario. Sallies have long known that you can worship in non-ecclesial space, since that space ought to serve a wider social purpose the other 167 hours a week. In this case, the space is a money-making coffeehouse the rest of the time. (A good picture in this article.) Cafe (coffeehouse) churches go back at least forty years and the Salvationists go back further, resting on sound principles that people actively engaged in mission understand quite naturally.

But this is more than a question of where to hold worship between 11 am and 12 pm on Sundays.

Apart from the now-tired rhetoric of third places and tribes, Freeway leader/point-person Pernell Goodyear makes a good point -- which I cannot now find; if I find I'm misattributing I'll let you know -- about not putting all your effort into the experience of weekly worship, but put it into faith development and let the urge to conduct Sunday worship flow from that.

The church, it follows, that lives by its one great hour on Sunday will die by it.

3 Replies to “The one-hour church”

  1. That article is great. I love the idea! Goodyear says: We didn’t want another church building with a sanctuary and stained glass. I’ve found that many churches are hard to access during the week—the doors are locked except for people who participate in the structured programs.

    I really hate this! A few weeks ago I was in downtown Portland on a weekday afternoon and wanted to take a look at one of the many “First” churches that are down there. The church had recently completed a huge renovation, and the newly landscaped property was hemmed in by a big, new, black steel gate. The signs on the gate and building said “Welcome” and “open,” but the doors were all locked, the gate to the side door was locked; the elevator was locked. I can understand why – safety, protection of valuables, etc. But I said to Michael, “What does any of this have to do with Jesus?”

    I was annoyed, but not surprised. I’ve attempted to visit other churches on non-Sundays, and except for the Catholics (with their many masses), have never been able to gain entry.

  2. Somewhere in Florida (around Fort Meyers?) there is a rather young (founded in the last 20 years) Swedenborgian Church that has broken out of the 1 hour Sunday mode. I believe they have name like “The New Church of South-West Florida”. They distribute free bread in a nearby needy neighborhood, run a thrift store, have an after school tutoring program for elementary students, and on Sunday clear a space in their storefront to hold worship. They are very clear that their worship is inspiration for their larger mission in the community; and the worship service is a secondary support for that mission.

  3. Great post. But hon, I wanted to let you know that I have to refresh the page when I want to see your most recent posts. I think you asked a few days ago if this was still the case, and it is for me. I use IE.

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