What I Expect
Visio Dei has two weekly Sunday morning gatherings – 9 AM and 11 AM.
We make sure to call them “gatherings” because we want to emphasize the fact that “church” is not what happens on Sunday mornings. It just happens that, on Sunday mornings, the church of God gathers together to be unified as “the church”.
Now, we are not a very formal community. So, at these gatherings, hardly anyone wears a suit and, if they do, it’s usually because it is their first time meeting with us. They most assuredly will not wear one next time. 🙂 We have coffee and baked goods in the back that we make available to anyone and everyone. We have couches in the front that people can “lounge” on during the gathering. All of this leads to a pretty laid-back atmosphere at our gatherings. That’s intentional and I think that it’s a good thing.
Now there are plenty of reasons for followers of Christ to attend church: as an expression of love for God in front of and with others (Ps. 22:22), to hear the word of God preached (Rom. 10:17), to be in midst of the presence of God (Matt 18:20), and to obey God’s command to gather (Heb 10:25). To be sure, all of these are good reasons for believers to attend.
But I can’t help thinking that none of those things are the MAIN thing; they weren’t for the apostle Paul. For Paul, the main thing was that we would know Christ and that we would preach “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2). In short, Christ and the work that Christ did must be everything. He is the reason the church exists. He is the reason we gather. We are justified through faith in him. We approach the throne of God through him. He is everything.
I think all of that relaxed informality that I was talking about above is indeed a good thing. But I have to think that it has its downsides as well. All of that informality can lead to the wrong attitude. Sometimes I wonder if we are more concerned with drinking our coffee and making sure that we get the last piece of banana nut bread than we are with doing other things or doing the main thing.
The challenge when we gather, then, is to keep our focus on Christ. I get comments sometimes about how the music is too loud or too quiet. I get comments about how the band moves too much or the band doesn’t move enough. I get comments that let me know that some people like one song and some other people can’t stand it. All of these things make me wonder if 1) we might not be lifting up Christ the way we should be and if 2) we, as His people, might be getting too caught up with minor issues and distractions and losing sight of the main thing.
I know how easy it is to give into the distractions that keep us from focusing on Christ when we gather. The staff and volunteers and Visio Dei have to work very hard to make sure that Christ becomes and remains the focus of our worship, and it can be hard. It’s the job of leaders in the church to make sure that we are lifting up Christ in everything we do. And it’s the job of others in the church to make sure that they recognize that and stay focused on it.
So what do I expect on Sunday mornings at Visio Dei?
I expect that the name and work of Christ will be lifted high in absolutely everything that we do and say.
I KNOW that this will lead us to worship.
I expect that others in the church will come expecting to worship Christ.
I expect that we will encounter God in that and that we will be changed.
I expect that Christ will be in our midst, leading our worship of God and encouraging us (Heb 2:12).
May the Lord be honored each Sunday that we gather, and may all other distractions fade away.