Session 8: What does the Church gathering look like?

To be honest we don't know what it will look like, but we think that by asking "What will Sunday gathering look like?" is starting with the wrong question.

If we were to suggest something I am sure we would receive lots of defensiveness, and we would probably be wrong anyway.

As we have shared, when we shift our paradigm about "how growth happens" our focus also changes. Instead of preparing and delivering more information on Sundays, instead of measuring individual growth, we ask different questions. Instead of asking "did we complete our bible readings each morning?" or "did we pray for our neighbors?"

We ask instead "how is our discipling going", or "how are our relationships?" We ask questions about the heart, such as how has our heart being moved this week.

We certainly relate all the time to other people, and I am sure something will come to mind. Well I hope so. Our modern church often measures success on an individual basis, but we need to focus on the relational aspect of our village! By God's design we are a social being after all, fashioned in His image to be in relationship with each other.

Discerning what your Sunday Gathering needs to look like

Now we have put the focus back on the relationships in the villages, for Sunday we want to gather the villages to celebrate and worship. This is what the Sunday gathering is all about.

In our church, we have identified that everyone is part of a village of some sort. However, we have noticed that for some, only one person for that village attends. This then is our largest challenge. It is where only one spouse is a Christian, and the other is either neutral to Christianity or opposed to it. It is where the elderly parents attend Church but the adult children and grandchildren do not.

If we yearn for people to live in villages that care for their children, care for their elderly and those in need around them, we desire to have those villages being a place of growth, a place of discipleship. For this we need at least 2 people from each village gathering on Sunday. And then hopefully a place where the whole village can gather if they so wish. The Grandparents, the Parents and the Grandchildren all coming to celebrate together with other villages. We must be inviting the villages, inviting these relationships, and making space with our language for them all to be welcomed. If this is not our goal, then I think Sunday Church just became a club. This then becomes our question: "what does Sunday look like if we want all our villages to come together?"

The answer you give to this question is what Sunday gatherings need to look like for you in your situation. This then is the church on mission, making disciples in all the nations.

How do we define a village?

Now we have a starting question, we will at some point ask what is the village? How do we define this grouping?

The first consideration is: a village is always defined by the dependents point of view. For example, our children are dependents in our church context. So then their village would be my wife and I, as well as other adults who our children connect with, whom they would spend time with during the week. Perhaps aunts or uncles or their substitutes, the grandparents and perhaps teachers.

By defining a village this way, it is quiet easy to see that my wife and I could be part of several villages and that is okay. It is not about us anyway, it is always about those whom are being discipled. We have had our time, we are not looking for someone to be our answer, to replace our parents. We now have capacity to take responsibility for others, and this is that place where we grow.

There are some adults who are not ready to take responsibility for another, who themselves are still dependents. I think of a single mother we know who has emotional health challenges. She does not have the capacity to look after her child this time or herself, and both the Mother and Child are dependents. They then both need a village in which to support them. This then is how we define a village.

I am in multiple villages, is that okay?

My wife is very excited to define a village in this way. When our daughter was younger and we lived in a smaller town where we knew most of the other families with children of a similar age. She considered these children like her own children, having the families over so she could love on the children and bless and support the parents at the same time.

Now Sunday Church gatherings that invite these villages, are giving our children, our vulnerable and dependents, what they desperately need in our modern society. They need a place to be discipled, to be loved and cared for. A place to be unconditionally invited into our presence, and space to explore their world. Space to develop resiliency and resourcefulness, so they then in turn can grow up and love and care for others, having the capacity to solve the problems they face in life.

I trust this session has inspired you to think in new ways how we gather together.

We would love to connect and share more about what we are learning, and the model we use to build our villages. Feel free to leave a comment below, sign up for our newsletter, or check out one of our courses to learn more. We would be honored to have you join our community.

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