Author: Jessop Sutton
Simply Church by Jessop Sutton A great truth that we are inclined to overlook is that the model presented to us by the large city churches is hardly a model for all. Quite simply, what they do requires large amounts of money and expertise which is just not available in the remoter places where the Church also needs to blossom. Take a simple thing like music to accompany the singing. What chance is there really that in a small-town community there will be anything more than one person who can play the piano (assuming the fellowship has a piano availabel), or one person who can play a few chords on a guitar? If the model is true, then this can never be a Church because the big band is missing? Not so, Jesus and His disciples did sing, but they just sang one or two songs without music. This actually does lead to another situation. Most songs and choruses, except for the very old ones, are copywrited and may not legally be copied in anyway. To buy the books is usually quite expensive, affordable only to a larger wealthier congregation. What are the choices? Of course, each person can provide their own book to sing from, but on the other hand some suitable songs could just become known by heart, and the people can just sing. It actually works quite well -- for one, a song can start very spontaneously as one person just lifts up his or her voice and all join in with no need for the turning of pages! It limits the repertoire, but then who says there has to be many songs? I wonder what Jesus and the disciples used? Again, what I am saying is that our ideas of church must not be limited to what we see the big churches doing. We can have Church very well just doing what Jesus and His friends did when they got together. We could go on and talk about the educated ministry and preaching that takes place in a big church. That also requires large resources because the staff often need to draw more pay than the average salary in the congregation. So, as long as we want to believe that this is a true model for a Church, then we cannot have Church in a smaller community. But fortunately it is not the only model. In fact, Paul suggests that the christians in the community should just do their own preaching and teaching. We find that when we try it that way, the most wonderful things can come out of the most uneducated people who simply love and trust Jesus. And what about a Communion Service? Surely we will need a special table and a silver plate and challice? Again, No! We have shared the bread and wine using an ordinary side plate and a glass tumbler passing round the circle! Some have also passed the bread and cup round the table after a shared dinner -- just like Jesus did. Actually, this way really emphasis the sometimes hidden truth that the bread and wine when shared represents us as one body, as much as it represents Jesus Himself. We think this is more like what Jesus meant. So, what is our message? Take a simple view of what Church is, get together with some friendly christian neighbours, and just do it. You see, you are the Church.