Last Sunday we canceled our Sunday gathering. We did not have inclement weather. The preaching pastor was not ill. The roads were not blocked. We canceled our service deliberately to take part in Austin’s annual Capitol 10K run and fun run. Over 18,000 people turned out this year.
The run benefits a local charity each year. This year it was Meals on Wheels, a non-profit that delivers groceries and provides services to the home bound and elderly. Our City Groups work with Meals on Wheels so it was a natural cause for us to support. We mobilized our church to participate in the 10K and had a big cookout afterward. In retrospect and in prospect, here are four reasons to cancel your Sunday service.
- It enables us to corporately Serve the City, Know the City. By canceling an age-old tradition of Sunday church services, Austin City Life church went public with their commitment to being a church that is genuinely for the city. Instead of gathering in our downtown venue while thousands of runners streamed by, we decided to join our city in a great cause of feeding the needy. We rubbed shoulders with people who need Jesus. We gained a unique perspective of the city. Approaching the capitol with a throng of people, we made our way up Congress St running right to the edge of the capitol building. I poured out prayers for our government and kept running. We saw neighborhoods up close, house after house of people who don’t know Jesus and prayed. We saw the unique architecture and marveled. Heard the great bands and cheered. Laughed at the ridiculous costumes and had a great time with our city. Cancel your service to serve and know the city.
- It reinforces how important it is to Be the Church. By canceling our Sunday gathering, we reinforced our belief that church is not merely what we do; it is who we are. Weekend services have actually replaced the church in America. Our landscape is dotted with churchless Christianity. As a new believer said to me recently, it doesn’t matter if I miss a few Sundays because I am with the church throughout the week. Canceling the event and spending time running, cooking, eating, and hanging out was a wonderful reminder that we are the church and that we need one another.
- It offers Sabbath rest for a driven society. When we canceled our service, we created much needed rest for many volunteers, deacons, leaders, and pastors. We also created the opportunity for the church to rest in a society that is driven and too busy. We had quite a few people that did not participate in the race. They took the opportunity to relax and enjoy a wonderful day without the demands of work or service attendance. Many of us remarked how nice it was to not be in the service. Is this because we don’t want to worship God, because we don’t love the Word of God, because we are slovenly and indifferent to the gospel? Not at all…but it could also be that it…
- Serves as a reminder that very often we are too busy for church. That Sunday “off” came as with unexpected level of refreshment for many? Why? Because very often we are too busy for church. We get so exhausted from our busy lives, that Sunday gatherings of the church are something we discipline ourselves to go to. We work so late that we don’t go to our City Group meetings. We are so exhausted from taking the kids here and there that we can’t imagine having the energy to have people over for dinner to share life with. Unexpectedly, canceling a service can lead people to repentance over sinful busyness and faith in the Sovereign supplier of all things.