Some Observations on Christian Worship
By Jon Zens

(1) In the early era Christians never met in synagogues, or any religious structure. That's what made gospel-life so different to other religions -- it had no religious buildings, as did all other religions, including Judaism. When Paul & others appeared in synagogues, it was an evangelistic effort, not a gathering of brothers & sisters, as displayed in 1 Cor.14.

(2) It would have been very easy in the early era to set up clusters of believers in a city around ethnic roots -- Jewish believers could have met in certain homes, and Gentile believers could have met separately in other homes. But that would have been a denial of all that the gospel stands for -- one new man, where there is no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. Believers from all backgrounds were to meet together in their city, not apart. Is it not out of step with the gospel to set up Christian meeting places whose rationale is based upon racial, gender, economic or other human distinctions? In so doing are we not erecting barriers that were taken away by Christ's work on the cross (Eph.2:13-17)?

(3) "But do not be called 'Rabbi,' for one is your Teacher, even Christ, and you are all brethren. And call no one your 'Father' on earth, for one is your Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called 'Leaders,' for One is your Leader, Christ. But the greatest among you will be your servant" (Matt.23:7-11). It would seem to me that in light of Jesus' teaching, brethren should function together without titles like 'Rabbi,' 'Rev.,' 'Senior Pastor,' etc., etc. The unbiblical clergy/laity distinction is only fed by titles that elevate some above others.

(4) When I read Howard Snyder's "The Problem of Wineskins" in 1977, he pointed out that spending millions of dollars on church buildings seemed out of whack with kingdom values. Is it not possible that in light of our Rabbi's teaching about money, the poor, and what church really is about, that we might do well to step back and evaluate the wisdom of huge expeditures on structures? The early church prospered spiritually and advanced powerfully without 'holy buildings.' Why do we feel compelled to invest so many resources into that which may very well bring us to contradict our Master's teaching about His kingdom? It is with heavy heart that I say that it seems that those in evangelicaland manifest little concern about what the Lord's word teaches us about the essence of church life and how we are to use the resources He gives us as stewards. We seem to be driven by anti-kingdom traditions of men that perpetuate a staus quo that puts the emphasis on all the wrong things. We confess that Christ is our Head, and that He rules us by His word in the New Testament. Are we really willing to test our traditions and practices by His word and jettison those things that block obedience to His revealed will?
Thank you for considering my input.
Jon Zens
August 19, 2004

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