As the paradigms continue to shift like the plates of the earth’s crust, more new ways of thinking and, thus, more new ideas are continuously and relentlessly crashing against the old established norms. Our political environment, worldwide, is a perfect example of this fact. Another example can be found in the church, where the understanding of the role of Sundays is to be (if it is not already) the next point of contention.
It is common knowledge that the accepted norm for previous generations concerning Sundays was that stores and business of all sorts were closed, and the church was open for business. The norm for the average family and/or individual was to be in church on Sunday. The norm for society was congregational, thus the church is where people congregated. Membership of the church, therefore, was calculated according to the Sunday Services attendance and the offering plates were piled high on this accepted, congregational day, norm.
For better or for worse (a conversation to be had at another time), this social mindset is no longer the accepted norm. Many stores and businesses are open for business on Sundays, thus, many folks work on Sundays, and many churches are closed for business because their business model no longer works. A bigger issue here, though, is that the congregational mindset is no longer the social norm. Concerning the church, many do not trust the institution and regard the establishment as corrupt (as can be seen, also, in the political environment). Not rejecting God, but rejecting the established institution, many in society are rejecting public, congregational worship and turning to smaller groups for spiritual enlightenment.
Thus, the organized church, if it is to survive (and I believe it is), must find ways to return to its roots – i.e., the primitive church of the first three centuries of Christian history. A time is coming when it will not be able to count membership only by Sunday Services attendance, but will have to take into account (as obvious as it sounds) the other six days of the week as well. It is going to have to think of new ways to pay its bills, pay for its missions, and pay for its ministries besides counting the coins in the offering plates.
Let me make this clear, the old church paradigm (which is not being replaced, but built upon by God) is an unsustainable system that is shuttering under its own weight. The new paradigm is streamlined for mobility. It is not erecting church buildings (and thus filling church pews), but making disciples for Jesus Christ (who, therewith, become the church wherever and whenever it is found). It is about building communities (not congregations) where the community is the church and the building is the place where things are offered within (not to or for) the community to meet the needs of the community. The new paradigm is calling forth a vision of identity and not a ministry for identification; it is calling out seven days a week, everywhere at anytime within everyone. Perhaps Sunday will be a common day, but it will not be the only day.