I am afraid that many people (pastors included) have confused the essentials of the church with the non-essentials. The more people I talk to the more I see a misunderstanding of the church and what the church should be doing when it meets together. While I am not focusing on the foundational purposes of the church in this post, I do think we need to clearly state what the essentials and non-essentials of a church really are.
So what are the essential components of a church service? Here is what I think can be easily seen in Scripture.
1- The preaching and teaching of God’s Word
3- The observance of the ordinances
4- The public reading of Scripture
5- Congregational singing
These are the 6 essential components of a church service. The problem I see is that many people and churches are abandoning the essentials of ministry while becoming more committed to other non-essential aspects. I am sure you are wondering, “What are some non-essentials of church ministry?” Let me offer a few.
1- Sunday School
2- Sunday evening service
3- Special music
5- Passing the offering plate
6- Missions conferences and revival meetings
Understand that there is not necessarily anything wrong with anything on this list. However, when these are held to more strongly that the items in the essential list, it is a sign that our focus and priorities are wrong. We are wrong to judge a church based on anything other than the essential components. A church is neither biblical nor unbiblical based on whether or not they have certain non-essential components that you prefer.
So How Does This Play Out?
If a church has all of the essential components of a church service, but does not have Sunday School, or a Sunday evening service, or special music, or a traditional invitation — guess what — they can still be a 100% biblical church. On the other hand, if a church is traditional in every way – they have Sunday School, invitations, special meetings, three services a week, etc., but yet are not committed to all of the essentials, then they are not a biblical church.
As I said at our church on Sunday, “We are not here to see how contemporary we can become, nor are we here to see how traditional we can remain. We are here to see how biblical we can be.” This requires that we become fully committed to the essential components of ministry and less hung up on the non-essentials.