What to expect
What can I expect in a Sunday Meeting?
The answer to the question is: it depends…
We are a diverse people and the leaders bring their personalities with them. A lot of people are in charge. So it depends.
We are always changing and growing, not just replicating some genius from the past. So it depends on where we are and what we head from God.
We move with the historical seasons of the Christian year: Advent, Lent/East, Pentecost and we invent new seasons for ourselves. So it depends.
Our hearts are consistent however. We are always trying to answer these questions.
- How do we live out a real life in Christ these days?
- How do individuals become whole?
- How can we be a missional community
We do not think Jesus is content with the structures he has been given to use, so we keep planting the church. We are restless with the knowledge that the Lord is doing another new thing in the world—a movement as deep and consistent as God, but as fresh and creative as the era in which we live. We want to be a part of what is next. We are always looking for the way that seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us.
For most people in the United States, where the culture has been saturated with a parish church mentality, a revival meeting sensibility and a sanctuary religiosity, we are trying to develop a new paradigm. When the cells of Circle of Hope have a Sunday meeting, we are attempting to do what we need to do—to worship, to maintain our sense of being a people in Christ, to give public witness to the Spirit of Christ among us and to be available for who and what is next.
Elements of the Sunday Meeting
When Jesus went to the Feast of the Tabernacles he stood up at one point and said, “’Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (John 7:38-39). We use a similar metaphor to explore what is happening at our weekly “feast.”
Our plans each week are like cooking a big, hearty pot of stew for a large party. There are many ingredients to mix together until just the right balance is achieved. Depending on the needs of the moment or on the ingredients at hand, we can emphasize one element or another for a time. But, in the long run, there are certain things that we think always make for a good stew, and we want them in the pot.
1. We want to lead people into the presence of God to explore and express his love.
Every person, following Jesus or not, has the capacity to experience God’s presence. They have a level of awareness beyond the ordinary that is open to spiritual connection.
2. We want to be real, not “slick.”
We are not trying to manipulate or create an image. We are who we are. Jesus is the Lord — He is who He is.
3. We are striving to do whatever we do well.
But we always remember:
a) Trying to be perfect is trying to be God. We are content to be reflections of his glory.
b) Trying not to be faulty is trying not to be human. We are not ashamed of needing a Savior.
c) E is for excellence, not ego trip. We’re working on doing everything “as to the Lord,” not to ourselves. We know everyone can feel the difference.
4. We want to encourage participants, not create spectators.
Especially in an interactive, choice-driven age, we want to provide people with opportunities. Even more, in an age of experts, in which performers can rise to an international stage, we don’t want to be so professional that everyone is forced to watch.
5. We avoid being boring, if possible.
We know we can’t keep everyone totally enthralled. But we do try to help them stay engaged by doing something different or unpredictable each week. We don’t have a format that can function on autopilot.
6. We are personal.
What we are doing is relational, community-forming. We like to hear from real people. We like to hear about real people and events. We plan for optional times when people can interact with real people during the meetings.
7. We try to stay relevant.
It is a changing world, and we aren’t letting it pass us by, even though we aren’t conforming to it. We keep up with current events and trends. We question stereotypes. We present Jesus in culturally accessible ways. We attempt visual and virtual, where appropriate.
8. We don’t hold back on revelation.
Although the Sunday Meeting is not the place for deep discipling, we do get personal about the truth in the Bible. We try to offer a variety of styles from a variety of personalities for our teaching.
9. We pay attention to time.
We like things condensed with the excess edited. We are aware that people give attention in short spans, so we keep things moving and changing. We don‘t perform for long periods or leave people sitting with nothing to do for too long.
At the same time, we don’t worry too much about keeping on schedule—just enough to let people know that we are aware that there is an implicit promise we have made by having a meeting that begins at a certain time and presumably ends after a normal amount of time. We don‘t want people to feel trapped, but we don‘t want to cut off what God is doing, either.
10. We have fun.
There is nothing more full of joy and relaxation than being comfortable with God and his people.
Proverbs About Sunday Meetings
- Without worship, a person shrinks.
- God is an artist. The artist who follows the Creator creates to reveal the glory of God, too.
- Since we are each and all temples of the Holy Spirit, art among us is never merely a matter of “self-expression.”
- Respect for gifts and abilities is not reserved for older people.
- Women and men are co-bearers of the image of God and therefore fully gifted and responsible to lead, teach and serve.
- Our public worship strives to be in public language focused on those yet to join in, but not restricted to that.