Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Purpose of Sunday Worship

What is the purpose of the principle Sunday service in a Christian community? I suppose that depends on the specific community, but what should it be. Is it a good idea to make Sunday worship into "seeker" friendly evangelism? Is Sunday worship even a viable option for bringing people into the church. I would like to propose an historical answer to this debate.

In the earliest days of Christianity, the Eucharist was the main weekly service in a Christian community. When this took place, the service happened in two parts; the service of the word and the eucharist itself. This is roughly similar to the service found today in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. Historically, if you were not baptized you were made to leave the room directly after the service of the word where the person leading the service would say, "The doors, the doors." Thus the Eucharist itself was only for the believers in the congregation. This divide became even more pronounced when Christians began to be persecuted for their beliefs. The privacy of community worship became a matter not just of theology and belief but of life and death.

So what makes us think today that we should use the liturgy for the Eucharist in a seeker friendly way. It seems that this would water down the significance of this form of worship for the members of the church while remaining rather cryptic to "seekers". Would it be better to make a point of having "seeker" friendly events during the week so that we could reserve the Eucharist for our baptized members?

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