Do you ever wonder what other people’s Mondays are like?
For me, Mondays are a busy day. On the train ride to work, I do my daily Bible reading and pray. At work, I analyse stats for my product’s performance over the weekend and have meetings with different people planning out the week and updating them on different initiatives.
After work, I rush home for a quick meal before a game of social volleyball. After the game, it is a quick shower and bed before the clock strikes midnight (okay, I sometimes sneak in an episode on Netflix). This has been my Mondays for the last few years.
Pondering on this question leads me to think about what different communities and in particular, church communities, do on Sundays.
It is fascinating to hear how different communities do church and structure their activities around it. Earlier this year I wrote about applying basic insight from business around building products of extreme uncertainty. It was a simple cycle of build-measure-learn and testing everything that you did.
I’d like to think our church has been pretty successful with it, especially on how we structure our Sundays for our context.
Church service time
We are a small suburban congregation, with a large portion of our attendees being university students. This means they have a knack for sleeping late the night before and sleeping in on Sunday morning. The next biggest group are young married couples and families. Naturally, babies crying in the middle of the night enhances their sleeping efficiency.
As a result, our service times are at 11:15am. Not too early in the morning as a large portion of the congregation can then get some good night’s sleep even after a big Saturday night out.
This in turn had many unexpected benefits for our congregation in terms of how we structured our activities and its ease of inviting newcomers to visit. Ultimately these structures help assist in fellowship and allows us to express the Gospel to each other by the speaking of His Word or in how we live our lives.
Fellowship around the church service
The church service is a gathering of a Christian community to meet together, sing songs, pray, read and learn more about the Bible from a talk. Having the service at 11:15am has enabled lots of fellowship and Gospel opportunities before and after.
At 9am you will see members of our congregation having coffee at local cafes to pray and read the Bible with each other in a one to one context. For teams that are serving, 9am is the perfect time for them to finalise any last-minute changes or things that they need to buy (such as materials for Sunday school).
After service, which finishes around 12:30pm, it is lunch time! Each week, we choose a restaurant to book 40-60 seats for our congregation to have lunch. All newcomers are invited and we make an effort to include lunch as part of church for us.
Serving each other
One thing we try each month is to have an “all-in” lunch. This is a chance for a Bible study group to serve the church and prepare lunch for the congregation. The Bible study groups come up with a variety of foods from Mexican tacos to Hainanese Chicken to American pulled pork to Japanese curry. By having lunch immediately after service, it reduces “friction” of people worrying about lunch and allows newcomers to feel welcome and stay to chat, ask questions about the Bible talk and enjoy a Sunday afternoon together.
For those that still have a Sunday afternoon and evening free (and have energy), they might go to a local park and play basketball or others might go to the movies and have dinner.
What is your church Sunday like?
For our congregation, fellowship is important and for those that miraculously do not need rest, they might spend all day from 9am to 9pm with people from church. The formal church service itself is only represents 1.5 to 2 hours of it.
The structure of our Sunday service and activities help to facilitate and enable us to express the Gospel. Time spent in fellowship and reading the Bible with each other help us to have good and sometimes hard conversations about God, the Bible and how we are living our lives for Him.
It also helps newcomers keen on hearing more about Jesus to ask questions and gives us opportunities to engage with us on a personal level as there is ample time to talk, get to know them and do life with them.
With university students, young workers and young couples, this structure has worked really well for us over the last few years, given they have lots of free time and enjoy each other’s company. Our challenges in the next few years are when our congregation starts transitioning to the life stage of having children where time and energy are scarcer as a resource.
Taking this challenge requires us to be committed and share a common understanding that church is not just the service but rather as a means of expressing the Gospel through fellowship and service to each other and not as a Sunday chore.
What is your church Sunday like? How, in our own contexts, do we create Sunday structures centred around being able to invite our friends to church to share with them the message of Jesus? How do we create Sunday structures to encourage each other in the faith?
Brandon Tsang is a Sydney-based writer currently working in IT. He studied Marketing and Economics at UNSW and loves to spend his spare time hiking, playing volleyball or watching Netflix.
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