I’ve served as the co-director of the college ministry at our church for a few years now and as we’ve tried to implement the vision of our church, I’ve noticed that there seem to be Christian Defaults that believers who have been involved in church continue to return to whether they recognize it or not.
Two of the Defaults I’ve noticed include:
Church is a 1 or 2-day event
I started attending church when I was 13 and it consisted of Sunday morning Sunday school and a church service and a Wednesday night youth gathering. This was my understanding and I believe the predominant understanding of church for most youth in a church growing up. As an adult it looks similar just substitute youth gathering for small group.
These events aren’t bad, but as a result of this understanding of church, Christianity often gets compartmentalized to these events and success in Christianity can be defined by mere attendance.
In contrast, the bible speaks of the church as a people in perpetual community, living in close proximity in an effort to serve together and care for one another as often as possible. This understanding doesn’t allow for Christianity to be compartmentalized but to invade every aspect of your life. Success then becomes a little less clear because it is based on encouragement, serving and caring for one another as habits rather than events.
Small Group is a Bible Study to attend, not participate
The idea of small groups that meet weekly is a move towards a greater understanding of Christianity calling people to live in community, but often results in a bible study with 1-2 teachers and 10-15 listeners. Similar to a Sunday school environment but usually spread throughout the week.
These bible studies are really effective at growing in knowledge of the bible, being involved in people’s lives to care for one another and usually involve prayer as well as accountability to holiness. The downside is that it typically fails to embrace an understanding of Christianity in terms of its mission to expand faith to others and to serve those who believe differently in the world around us.
It often becomes a stagnant community that is no longer inviting, when Christian community in the bible was always inviting and always looking for ways to serve others who believed differently.
Changing Christian Defaults
Our church and many others have started to ask the questions about how Jesus’ redemptive works redefines these defaults in an effort to correct their deficiencies. It even involved the invention of new cool Christian word (missional). Our church redefines small groups as Missional Communities to convey the message that Christians living in community should also actively be engaging and serving the world around them that believes and lives differently.
In this shift, I have begun to wonder what defaults we might be setting for future Christians in their understanding of church. Will the pendulum shift swing to create new defaults with other distortions of Christianity?
Do see these Christian defaults as well? What other Christian defaults do you see? How should the church respond to those?