Explore and Encounter

Explore and Encounter

So as we have been praying through and planning Remnant, God has led us to have two services on Saturday nights. We developed this process after considering the early church. I was intrigued by Philip Schaff’s multi-volume, The History of the Christian Church. He describes worship services during the early church and we have been influenced by those who have preceded us. 
During the first few decades of the church movement, Jews who had come to believe in Jesus continued to worship in their local synagogue and make the expected trips to the Temple. However, Jesus established additional celebrations not included in Jewish services- baptism, the Lord’s supper, and readings of the early Scriptures. So early believers celebrated the Father through the prophets and readings of the OT and temple practices on Saturday and then had a second service to celebrate Jesus on Sundays. They chose Sunday, the first day of the week, because that was the day Jesus rose from the dead. 
As the church grew in size, more and more non-Jewish people were converted and eventually outnumbered the Jews. At the same time Jewish leaders were turning against the early Christians and trying to eradicate them (Saul, the persecution of Stephen, etc). As a result, they moved almost all of their worship to Sundays and met in homes, avoiding the synagogue and Temple. Soon, they blended their Sunday services to include both the Saturday and Sunday focus.
Their first service was called “The Assembly” and they encouraged anyone of any faith or background to celebrate with them. They targeted those visitors and made sure everything was explained with an understanding that non-Jews with all sorts of religious backgrounds were coming to learn about Jesus. Paul addresses some of these concerns when writing the the Corinthians (1 Cor. 13:23). This was the service that included Jews and Gentiles of other faiths. Everyone was welcome to attend and learn about Jesus. 
The second part of the service was called “The Service of the Word” and was reserved only for those who were confirmed followers of Jesus who had surrendered and been baptized. They excluded non-believers from this second service. It was during this service that they focused on communion, deeper experience with the Holy Spirit, the manifestation of spiritual gifts, and prayer in the Spirit. Since the service was dedicated to the expression of the Holy Spirit, they saw no need for those who lacked a relationship with Holy Spirit to attend. Sadly, because of the exclusion of non-believers from the second service rumors spread that Christians were eating literal flesh and drinking literal blood. Many leaders of the early church were arrested by local authorities for performing cannibalistic rites.
Between the two services they had a time of fellowship. Schaff describes it this way:
To some it appeared to be a time of intermission. Yet it was more than that. It was a brief period for people to greet one another, and for believers to reconcile with fellow believers if there had been some conflict between them.  They did so in obedience to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 and Paul’s admonitions in 1 Corinthians 10-14.  The believers would then give each other a “holy kiss,” from which the cultural practice of a brief hug with a quick kiss on both cheeks came. You find this “holy kiss” mentioned in the New Testament (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26). It is also mentioned many times by the early church fathers. 
So when we launched Remnant we took these ideas under consideration. We developed the concept of two services. Our first service is called “Explore” and we are targeting believers with our teaching but we will acknowledge that non-believers are exploring with us as well. I promise that we will create an environment in our Explore service where you are comfortable bringing anyone and will at the same time be challenged personally to grow in Christ.
Then we take a break and greet one another but we have put a hold on the Holy Kiss idea. I love that the purpose of the intermission was to greet one another and make sure that any conflict was addressed before the communion service.
Next we have our second service that we call “Encounter.” It is a time focused on believers and a time for a more open expression of the Spirit. While this service is focused on believers, we don’t exclude non-believers as the early church did. It is during this service that we will share communion and invite everyone to participate as the Spirit leads them. This service carries a more casual approach and reflects the typical interactions of a family. Everyone participating and sharing as the Spirit leads.
I hope this helps you understand where we are going and what we are doing. We are working to create an environment during our Explore service for your friends, family and co-workers of all faiths and beliefs. We will not water down the content of our teaching but we will be aware of our guests in the approach and presentation of that message. Hopefully our culture will be one that encourages those who are exploring the claims of Jesus while at the same time challenging the rest of us to explore deeper. Our goal is to present the Word of God in such a manner that every person in the audience is glad they attended and plans to return the following weekend to learn more.
See you Saturday…
With your guest.
Blessings,
Frank

Source: Frank’s Blog

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