Oct 20, 2015

One Family, One Main Service

One family, one main service [please note: this service will be at 10.30am weekly from January]

From January 2016, I’d like us to have one Sunday morning service instead of two... (click to read more)

Posted by: DavidW

I believe that this is the next step in seeking to be the church that God wants us to be so that we can carry out his mission of knowing and showing Jesus in Finchley. This leaflet is an attempt to explain the reasons behind this idea, and an invitation to you to join in the process of thinking and praying this through as a church family.

Why one service?

The main reason to move to one service is not for the sake of convenience, but rather because it reflects God’s purpose for his church.

Diverse but united

The church is here to display God’s glory by being a body made up of diverse people who have been united in Jesus Christ. This is the message of the book of Ephesians (have a look at e.g. Ephesians 1:9-10 & 2:11-22) which is perhaps the greatest description of the church in the Bible. The thing that most excites me about Christ Church is that, at our best, we are exactly that! I am delighted both by the way that we are made up of such a mixture of different people and by the way that we love each other. This is evidence that God’s Spirit is at work among us, joining us together in Jesus, and I’m enormously thankful to Him for that.

Building one another up

Our motto for 2015 has been Growing Together in Christ, because as we’ve heard so often from God’s word in the Bible this year and before, growing as Christians is something we must do together. Growth comes from the Lord, and it happens as we serve one another and speak the truth in love to one another (see Eph 4:11-16). In short, God has put us together and we need each other.

A culture of infinite choice

Our 21st century culture is driven by the desire for endless choice. Ours is an ‘opt in’ society, where we define ourselves by the things we buy, the way we choose to look and the groups we choose to belong to. These choices divide us into smaller and smaller groups, and so it is no surprise that people in 21st century London long for a sense of genuine community and peace between different cultural groups.

In this context a united body made up of different people is a striking and attractive thing. We often find that the thing which visitors find appealing about Christ Church is the way that we are both diverse and united; the sort of community that people would like to belong to. This is no surprise, as Jesus was very clear that it is our love for one another which displays that we are his disciples. It is my conviction that we show this most clearly when we are gathered together.

All of which is to say that I think a single main service is a better reflection of what God has called us to be – diverse but united in Christ. Consequently it would be better for helping one other to grow and better for our outreach.

Why can’t we stay as we are?

Change is always painful, and always involves loss as well as gain. It’s also particularly sensitive because if church is our Christian family, then we feel at home in our meetings. And it’s difficult when someone makes adjustments to our home.

That said, it’s been steadily dawning on me that the problem with our services now is that we are one family (not two) divided essentially over which style of meeting we prefer. And this is not a good reason to divide a church. It results in two small groups of people who need each other. We may like it as it is – of course we will if the current arrangement suits our preferences – but if what I have said above is correct then it’s not best for our growth. For instance, currently some of our wisest and most mature disciples have little opportunity to meet with some of our newest members. The mutual benefit of bringing these different members together could be great.

What will the new service look like?

The short answer is that it will not be exactly like any of our current services. It would not be like our current monthly 10.30 altogether service, as that is an all age service without groups for children and young people, whereas on other Sundays in the month those groups would be running. A genuinely united service would obviously include aspects of our current 9.45 and 11.15 services, but it would have differences too. It is my opinion that these differences would not feel too drastic, particularly as in recent times the 9.45 and 11.15 service have become much more alike than they were.

Just because the style and order of services are poor reasons to divide the church doesn’t mean that these things are unimportant. People normally have deeply felt reasons – sometimes very good reasons – for their preferences.  I am keen to listen carefully to your thoughts on this. My desire is for the format of the new service to fit the nature of the people we are and the church we are called to be.

To unite across differences of opinion on these things will require, as ever, lots of God-given love. It is worth remembering that in Ephesians, where we are told so much about the value of unity in Jesus, we are also told to “be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). I humbly ask your patience as we think this through and then work it out in practice.

What happens next?

The coming months will involve a process of prayerful consultation. Chat to me about it! In the next few weeks I will be holding open meetings where you can come and share your thoughts and pray. If you are unable to attend one of these meetings but would like to talk to me at another time, come and see me and we’ll sort something out. In November I will be circulating a questionnaire aimed at gathering your thoughts on the content of the service. Please be honest (and gracious!) with me and with each other in this. It is my prayer that this process, along with each of our gatherings, might bring glory to the Lord as it gives opportunity for us to grow together in Christ.

With much love in the Lord,

Dave Walker