In this clip, my favourite theologian John Wimber shares how he thought a church service looked like before he, as a newly converted believer, had ever visited one. He thought that people met at church, worshipped, had a good time and then decided who should go where: “You go downtown, I’ll take Anaheim”, etc. Then they would go out, heal some sick, cast out some demons and lead a few people to Christ, and then they would have lunch afterwards.
Unfortunately, John’s church wasn’t like that. After having attending a whole bunch of boring services he once asked his pastor “When are we gonna do the stuff?” “What stuff?” “You know, the stuff Jesus did – healing the sick, raising the dead” “Well, we don’t do that anymore. You just have to believe that it was done once.” John was confused and asked “What do we do then?” “What we did last morning!” John gasped: “For this I gave up drugs?”
I had similar thoughts when I was a new believer. I always thought it was strange that the church meetings were called “services”, since 95% of the people in my church weren’t serving very much. In fact, we hardly did anything except singing a few hymns and walking to the altar to receive communion.
When I later on joined a charismatic church the singing part got a bit more active, but beside that you didn’t do anything in church except receiving – receiving a sermon, receiving prayer or receiving a cute song from the Sunday school group.
Then I joined my current church, Mosaik, a small independent house church based on Wimber’s Kingdom theology and with a heart for evangelism. Here, the services gave a lot of oppurtunities to serve – it’s simply much easier to share a testimony, prophecy or reflection in a small house church. Paul’s vision in Firsy Corinthians 14:26 was realized in a clearer way than I’d seen before:
When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. (NIV)
But not only that, Mosaik has a 50/50 vision – half of our activities should be evangelistic. So we go out on the streets every Wednesday and encourage our members to see this as just a natural part of church life as the Sunday service. And it has given some results even if we want to see much more – at least ten people have been saved over the years and many have been healed.
It was still hard to get all people with us though – and when I look back I can see we were still stuck in the mainstream paradigm of church services being something separate from outreach. So this semester we started to experiment with our services. We now variate between four different types:
- A semi-traditional charismatic service with a lot of food
- Another one being a simple prayer meeting with strategic prayer for our missions projects in Cameroon, Nepal and Ukraine.
- The “go out come in” service where we do outreach one hour and then invite the people we meet to a short evangelistic meeting at my place.
- And finally we have the prayer-outreach revival meeting which is basically the other way around – firstly we meet at my place to pray for revival, then we go out on the streets sharing the Gospel and praying for people.
I find this extremely biblical. The church in Jerusalem had two meetings, one internal in the homes and one external in the temple courts where they peached the Gospel and healed the sick (Acts 2:45-47). Receiving Bible teaching and letting people pray for you is great, and it is needed for service, but it isn’t service. Service is when you heal the sick, preach the Gospel and help the poor. Service is when you do the stuff.