I am not sure how the hour from 11:00-12:00 on Sunday morning (or whenever you “go to church”) became known as “The Church Service.”
Probably, the term is too ingrained in our church culture to change it.
Nevertheless, “the church service” is one of the most tragic misnomers of Christianity.
No Service in the Church Service
First of all, little actual service takes place in the church service. If we define service as “using your spiritual gifts to edify and meet the needs of others, then on Sunday morning during the church service, only the Sunday school teachers, the ushers, the music team, the pastor, and a few others are “serving.”
I suppose one could make an argument that putting money in the offering plate is “serving” and in some sense, simply showing up is an encouragement to the pastor, but is this really what is meant by “Christian service”?
Limited “Service Times”
Second, it is tragic that we have segmented off an hour or two of our week and called it the “Service Time.” Check most church websites and bulletins, and they have their “Services Times” listed. The implication is that if you show up at one of these times, you are involved in Christian service. And if you ask most Christians what they do in their “Service time” they will talk about praying, singing, and listening t0 someone teach them from the Bible. Is this really service?
Somehow, we need a radical shift in how we schedule our church functions and programs. We need to have actual “Service times” where we get together and go help someone in our church or in our community. Mow lawns, feed the hungry, help single mothers with their kids. Then, we can come together as Christians for times of celebration, prayer, and teaching, but we probably shouldn’t call such times “service.”
You probably aren’t going to get your church to change any of this, but how about you personally? How can you put the service back in “church service“?
2013 Note: This post was from 2007. Since then, I came out with a book titled, Put Service Back into the Church Service, which fleshes out in more detail some of what I wrote about in this post, and suggests some concrete ideas for how to put actual service back into the church service.