Roundtable: How Can We Offer Acceptable Sunday Services?

A Sunday service was held in Xinhua Church, Zhuanghe City, Dalian City, Liaoning Province, on March 5, 2023.
A Sunday service was held in Xinhua Church, Zhuanghe City, Dalian City, Liaoning Province, on March 5, 2023.
By Steve Sun September 28th, 2023

The Sunday service is the most important event in the life of a Christian, who eagerly anticipates receiving heavenly grace and blessings from God to better live their lives in the coming week.

In this roundtable discussion, four Christians from different age groups shared their thoughts on the Sunday service they expected.

Sunday sermons should pierce and draw people to the Lord.

Elder Zhu Xinkai, a Christian from East China, born in the 1970s, believed that in recent years, sermons seemed to have tended to cater to the tastes of the congregation. The sermons from the pulpit often lacked content that pierced the heart and tended to focus more on sharing knowledge and methodology related to faith.

Elder Zhu says, "After Sunday service, when I try to revisit the sermon, I find it can not remind me of the memorable content and lacks commitment to practicing God’s words. Some senior believers in our church have shared similar feelings. Therefore, I hope that in the future, the pulpit ministry can be more aligned with the truth and the will of the Holy Spirit, which can inspire people to come before God and rely on this righteous and loving Lord."

Sermons with superficiality and commonplace often fail to touch the heart.

Luo Yifan, a Christian from Northeast China, born in the 1990s, believed that Sunday Service should be comprehensive and complete, which means that every part of the service, such as scripture reading, praise, hymns, and silent prayer, is crucial to helping believers better embrace the truth.

Luo candidly expressed, "Regarding the sermon during Sunday worship, if it contains profound content, the length of the sermon is not a problem. However, in some churches, sermons tend to be superficial, often focusing on ethical and moral exhortations, which I find repetitive."

"Furthermore, praise, the pastor's sermon, and group sharing after the service are all key elements of service. In my view, group sharing is not an optional component; it allows individuals to respond personally to God's word, offering different interpretations and mutual learning. Listening to a sermon is like the process of eating, and group sharing is like the process of digestion and absorption. Sharing and discussing how to connect God's word with life can also foster a sense of belonging within the church."

Pastors need to collaborate with the Holy Spirit while preaching.

Xu Xiaochuan, a male Christian in his 20s from South China, believed that the service was the time when people interacted with Jesus. He personally thought that in a Sunday service, the sermon was not necessarily the most critical part, and there was no need for a deliberately heart-piercing sermon. Instead, he emphasized the sense of ceremony in the entire service and the collaboration with the Holy Spirit in each session, which could impact the congregation.

Xu confidently stated, "If every part of service can lead people closer to Jesus, the service is considered to be successful. If a pastor does not cooperate with the Holy Spirit before delivering a sermon, even if the content is deeply moving, it may not have a lasting impact. I am averse to pastors who simply present their views and emotionally manipulate the congregation through slogan-like sermons. Such sermons might touch or ignite the audience momentarily, but without the involvement of the Holy Spirit, that emotional experience may disappear when they leave the church. With the Holy Spirit's involvement, the impact of the sermon is different, as it makes believers feel deeply moved and passionate and leads them to Jesus."

Pastors need to step out of their own churches to broaden their ministry horizon.

A male believer named Wenxin declared, "If a pastor wants to deliver quality sermons, they need to spend time meditating on God's word so as to leave a lasting impression on the congregation. However, today, many pastors simply copy and recite sermon manuscripts, delivering lengthy sermons that have no impact on believers' lives. Intellectuals in the church want more in-depth teaching that can interpret faith and life, while average believers want sermons with interesting examples that align with the truth, making the message relatable and engaging. The goal is to leave a deep impression of the truth."

He also proposed that pastors step out of their own churches and learn from other excellent churches on how to offer acceptable Sunday services, with the scope of their ministry being expanded. When pastors see the good practices other churches do in worship, they can enhance the quality of worship in their own congregations.

Regarding the praise segment of worship, Wenxin said, "Churches should select hymns that are familiar to the congregation. For new songs, they should provide churchgoers with learning opportunities to facilitate worship. The focus of praise should be to glorify the name of Jesus, expressing His salvation and the attributes of God."

"Some churches organize sharing groups based on the number of worshippers, including newcomer groups, senior believer groups, family groups, and prayer groups. This way, after the worship service, the church can ensure that the glory of worship and God's blessings remain in the hearts of the congregation for an extended period."

"After the worship service, it's wise for churches to have a pastor-led farewell segment for the congregation. This can help bridge the gap between pastors and believers, fostering trust and a sense of belonging."

(Note: To protect the privacy of the interviewees, the names of individuals mentioned in the article are pseudonyms.)

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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