Sheila Wray Gregoire of Belleville, Ont., is
an author and speaker. Find more of these
columns at www.faithtoday.ca/MessyFaith.
Idon’t think God ever intended that His people be bored for two hours every Sunday morning as proof of their dedication.
I love church. I love the fact that
my daughters have other adults
who take an interest in them. I
love serving. I don’t always love
After all, what happens on Sunday
mornings in most evangelical
churches around the country? A
pastor talks at you for 30 or 40 minutes, a worship team sings for 20, an
elder prays for 10 minutes, and there
you are, sitting in the pew, hearing
your mother’s voice telling you to just
sit still and be quiet. Meanwhile, the
friends you are dying to talk to sit
nearby, but you can’t chat because it’s
imperative you sing one more chorus.
Church ends and you rush, trying to catch up with 15 different
people. Your husband pulls on
your arm saying, “We really need
to go.” Your teenager claims she’s
starving. And you leave the church
without those heart conversations
with your community.
The teaching model of services
was appropriate in the Early Church
and the Middle Ages – and even in
some parts of the world today –
when the primary need was for solid
doctrine. When people hadn’t grown
up in faith and didn’t have access to
Scripture, they needed to be taught.
But that model has endured even
though I believe our needs have
evolved. Today, our primary need is
not teaching – my Bible app has
multiple commentaries at the click
of a button. Information is not in
short supply – community is. In our
fast-paced, media-driven world, we
crave authenticity and connection,
two things our modern church ser-
vices don’t deliver.
The Early Church didn’t have
endless services. They did life
together. Communion wasn’t small
cups passed around while sitting on
benches. It was people eating a
meal. Of course, there were still
boring sermons. Paul once droned
on so long that he killed poor
Eutychus, who nodded off while
sitting in a window and fell to his
death (Acts 20: 9–10) – though he
was later revived. Being bored in
church is nothing new.
That doesn’t mean we should just
accept it. Now that I’m older and
my professional life has become
more hectic, for the first time in my
40-odd years I’ve found it a challenge to get motivated to go to
church. That scares me.
When I led a praise team a few
years ago, one of the biggest struggles
we had was ensuring those pesky
announcements didn’t eat up too
much time and deprive us of singing
opportunities. I’ve changed my
mind. I think we need more an-
nouncements, not less.
I want to know what’s going on in
people’s lives far more than I want to
sing another song. Two weeks ago a
woman in my church spontaneously
asked the pastor if she could share
about a victory in her life. I don’t
know her well, but it was so encour-
aging to all of us to hear her story.
Isn’t fellowship part of worship too?
Here is what I would love:
More rejoicing with those who
rejoice and weeping with those who
weep on a Sunday morning.
Praying in small groups in the
service for the illnesses and struggles
people are facing.
A 15-minute sermon, with a discussion topic, and then a chance to
talk about it in the pews.
I’d love to listen to evangelism tips
from some of our members who are
so effective. I’d love to hear from
some of our young people as they
struggle with what they want to do
with their lives, so we can pray for
them and encourage them. I’d love
to read more Scripture as a congregation, pray more as a congregation,
and hear more stories about what
God is doing in individual lives. I’d
love to feel like I had connected.
I don’t need polished. I don’t need
professional music, or lovely carpets
or multimedia presentations. I don’t
even need an excellent sermon.
I need community. And with my
ridiculous schedule and my husband’s
ridiculous schedule, we can’t get it in
a regular small group. So Sunday
morning at 10: 30 is all I’ve got.
I wonder if everyone feels the
same way. Maybe we’re afraid to say
it because it feels heretical? But I
think we need to start talking about
how we do church, because we’re
not just losing numbers, we’re losing
connection. And community was
meant to be so much more. /FT
They did life
sHEIla WRay gREgoIRE
Why sunday mornings
have to change
I would change almost everything, if I could change
how we do church
length of serMons