Is Christianity a spectator sport? The mega-Church phenomenon—what a sight! Tens of thousands of worshipers at a football stadium, or what could be a football stadium. It brings a smile to the face of anyone who wants to see the body of Christ continue to grow. But before every young pastor aspires to lead a mega-Church, it needs to be realized that there are some drawbacks to the mega-Church phenomenon. One such drawback is the tendency for Christians to be perfectly satisfied with being spectators at their worship services. They sit attentively not only to hear the preacher preach but also to watch music bands perform—with the performance being sometimes indistinguishable from what would be seen at a Rock concert. Each congregant would of necessity be watching them on one of the monitors that have to be employed, for anyone on stage is barely identifiable to the man or woman sitting on the stands. The effect is akin to the experience someone has while sitting at a stadium and watching a football game, a basketball game or a soccer match. The worship experience becomes a spectator sport.
Before more and more people think of this as the ideal, may I submit that Christianity is not a spectator sport. For the Christian, worship should be multi-dimensional. There are the following aspects to the worship/fellowship experience of a Christian:
A. The Solo Experience: True Christian experience begins as a solo event. God does not have grandchildren, only children. Each person must come to the point of accepting Christ as his or her Lord and personal Savior, thus becoming a child of God. One who is so born again needs to learn to pray, have a Quiet Time, and study the Bible on his or her own, to have a one-on-one time with God. Even our Lord took time out to pray to His heavenly Father. For instance, Mark 1:35 tells us that our Lord rose up a great while before daybreak and went to a solitary place to pray.
B. The Dyad Experience: There are times when two people can come together to pray and/or study the Bible together. It could be you and your prayer partner, you and your boyfriend or girlfriend or fiancé, or you and your spouse, or still you and your disciple/discipler. Our Lord said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in their midst” (Matthew 18:20). While our Lord was in no way stipulating that our groups should only be made up of two or three people, He was definitely pointing out that no group is too small to warrant His presence.
C. The Family Devotional Experience: No matter how small or how large your family may be, the family devotion is a necessity for Christians. The adage, “The family that prays together stays together” is true. The devotional time does not have to be long. In fact, it should not be long, so as to encourage consistency.
D. The Small Group Experience: It is helpful for a Christian to be involved in a small-group Bible Study or Growth Group of some kind. The group should meet consistently—at least once a month and if possible weekly. Such a group provides people to whom you are accountable.
E. The Sunday School Experience: No Christian should think that Sunday Schools have gone out of style. The Sunday School class may be a small group or a large small group, but it is a vital experience, and no Christian should think that the worship service experience makes Sunday School redundant.
F. The Worship Service Experience: It is important to attend the worship service on a regular basis. The writer of Hebrews admonishes us, “Let us not neglect to meet together, as it is the habit of some” (Hebrews 10:25). Any Christian who chooses to isolate himself or herself from other Christians is unhealthy spiritually, and the degree of ‘ill-health’ may vary. There is much spiritual strength that is garnered from being in a sanctuary where Christians are singing together, praying together, and listening to the word of God being preached. Churches small and large can have vibrant worship experiences. Don’t forget that in the First Century the norm was that the Churches met in people’s homes. In Romans 16:5 Paul extends greetings to “ the Church that meets at [Priscilla and Aquila’s] house.”
G. The Celebration: There is a place for celebration. This could be brothers and sisters in Christ coming from sister-Churches, or the Churches in an association (or synod, as the case may be), or the Churches of a Convention to worship together, or other combinations of Christian groups.
H. The Crusade experience: A crusade calls for the Churches in a denomination or even evangelical denominations coming together to reach a city or even a region. This experience enables one to see that there are brothers and sisters in Christ in other denominations (in the larger body of Christ) who are ministering effectively to win souls, and to help to mature them, for Christ
It needs to be realized that variety is the spice of life here. To have only one of these experiences of worship/fellowship week after week is akin to eating the same meal every day. Make sure you are diversifying your worship/fellowship experiences and that you are participating in the worship experience in a vital way. Remember that Christianity is not a spectator sport.