In one of my previous churches we had a significant internationals ministry. Because the community was the site of a major university, people came there from all over the world. Our church, consequently, was one of the first churches in Baptist life to establish a conversational English ministry, which enabled us to minister to individuals from virtually every religious background on the planet.
I would pop into their gatherings from time to time just to see how things were going. I learned early on that one of the keys to helping people learn English is through simple songs, so I couldn’t help but notice how there was a lot of singing when I would pass by a classroom.
Each group had its favorite song, but the one that seemed to be at the top of the list for all the groups was the children’s ditty, “The More We Get Together.” You probably remember the lyrics. “The more we get together/the happier we’ll be.” The gist of the song was about making new friends and introducing those friends to our old friends so that our circle of relationships swells not just numerically, but also joyfully. What I always left most grateful for was the way in which those international students seemed to mean what they were singing. They liked getting together and making new friends.
That principle ought to apply to every church, regardless of the ministries God gives it to do. Because the church is a fellowship of believers, getting together ought to be something we look forward to doing each and every Sunday. I certainly sense that spirit in our gatherings at MBBC.
I especially sense it on those Sundays when we do combined worship. Almost every opportunity we have for both services to come together generates numerous positive comments about how we enjoy seeing people we don’t normally get to see and “making new friends” in the process.
I’ll be the first to admit that I think it would be nice if we be together in worship every Sunday. But I quickly recognize that such a wish represents a bygone era in Baptist life and that today’s worship must respect the differing “spirituality types” that each of us possesses. I’m only grateful that MBBC avoided the contentiousness that marked the manner in which far too many churches chose to separate their one service into dual offerings, and I attribute that accomplishment on our church’s part to wise and compassionate leadership – from our Senior Minister, Dr. Jim Moebes, to our Deacon leadership at the time. Believe me when I tell you that what MBBC did in this respect was more the exception than the rule.
Perhaps that’s why when we have Sundays when we’re together everyone seems to enjoy the experience. There’s not any animosity; there’s not any resentment; there’s not any disrespect. Instead, as the song would have it, people seem to be happy when we get together.
With our new schedule of concurrent worship (which has been so well received), we set every fifth Sunday in the year as a time for us to be together. While there will be other Sundays throughout the year when we will sense the need to combine the services, we chose from the outset of our concurrent schedule to make sure that we had opportunities for such experiences because we understood that our church needed those times. Our fellowship would only be strengthened by them.
This Sunday, March 31, is our first fifth Sunday of the year. So, we’ll be together in the Sanctuary at 10:30am for combined worship. Since it’s the end of the Spring Break week, we anticipate that we’ll have a good crowd for this important time. Plan to come early and linger afterward in order to renew old acquaintances and make new friends. I’m confident that we’ll be happier because of our time together and I’m even more certain that our church will be stronger and more vibrant, which is what all of us want, and, more importantly, what God wants too.
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1).