After Moses led God’s People out of Egypt, he became their intermediary to God. He went up on the mountain and returned with God’s word for His people. Jesus changed all that and gave us the opportunity to deal with God directly, to go into His presence, learn His ways, and fellowship with Him.
We aren’t always that comfortable with that. We like the distance that an intermediary provides. Someone studying Jesus movements noted that they tend to start when the leader becomes particularly close to God and they end when the followers substitute the leader for God.
Our current system makes it all about a couple of hours on Sunday. On Sunday mornings we try to provide teaching, worship, and fellowship. We make the followers think that if they made it on Sunday, they’ve done all that needs to be done. It’s just not so.
Teaching – You can get great teaching lots of places. The more a pastor tries to make Sunday morning about teaching the less time there is for worship and fellowship. Group teaching has to be general. It can’t address the individual struggles and questions of each member. In some churches, sermons are pretty much all calls to salvation, lots of milk and little meat. If the sermons are meaty, visitors are often lost. How is a pastor to balance those needs?
Worship – There is little time to really allow significant worship. The “music” times tend to be a performance designed to pep up the crowd and prep them for the sermon. There is woefully little real “presence of God” time. Actually, I think most churches don’t devote enough time to worship. It should be the focus of the Sunday gathering.
Fellowship – Fellowship on Sunday mornings is superficial. A few minutes spent shaking hands and saying “hello.” In the early years of our marriage, we attended Baptist churches. Every Sunday there was “Sunday School” and a worship service. The “Sunday School” allowed for fellowship time with the same “small group” every Sunday. It wasn’t perfect. It was essentially an hour of fellowship and sharing and an hour service. That has evolved in most churches to a two-hour service.
Many pastors see the problem and encourage “small groups.” These can be great but it’s tough to get folks to participate. Pastors fall back on the idea that they still have to provide everything on Sunday mornings for those who aren’t benefitting from the small groups.
I think the root of the problem is reflected in all of our society, an erosion of individual responsibility. On the worldly side, we look to government to solve our problems. In church, we fail to accept responsibility to seek God’s face, learn His word, and fellowship with His people. Pastors can’t be expected to provide all that in an hour or two on Sunday mornings. At best, they are just Moses. They aren’t God. Give your “Moses” a break. Take responsibility for your walk. You were created for fellowship with God; that doesn’t happen third hand. He wants to spend time with you and teach you His ways.