Last week was our church’s annual SERVE Gala. The staff went all out to let our church volunteers know they’re loved and appreciated, and each of our church’s five campuses singled out a Volunteer of the Year. It was fun, heartfelt, an excellent way to say thank you for all the time and effort members of our congregations invest in our church.
Pete and I were there because we, too, are church volunteers, helping out in a variety of ways. I believe that every churchgoer should serve their church body, according to their gifts and abilities. (Check out Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12.)
But there was something missing, something I rarely see mentioned when it comes time to talk about serving: while helping out at church is important, not all serving should happen in the church.
As I mentioned a week and a half ago, I’ve been plowing through lots of books on how to “do” church. My most recent read is Houses that Change the World, by Wolfgang Simson. And I have to say he’s shaken my understanding of church.
The book has been around a while—maybe you’ve already read it. Published in 1998, a number of his predictions have failed to materialize, but that doesn’t diminish what he has to say. (He was merely analyzing trends, not trying to be prophetic, so we don’t need to take him out and stone him.)
In general, Simson argues against churches patterned after the synagogue, with a set routine performed by “professional Christians” in front of a lay audience, and in favor of small “organic” house churches where our faith is lived out in the context of real life. I certainly see his point. He’s very persuasive, and I tend to agree with him more often than not.