The whole story of Jesus and his disciples is contextualized within their travel experiences. In all four Gospels, we read about a Jesus that was always on the move, surrounded by his disciples. Most of us Western Christians rarely pay attention to this detail because we rarely see it as relevant. But when we take a closer look, we soon realize that this behavior is exactly what is missing in today’s Western Church.
As a worshiping community, we foster an attitude of privacy when it comes to the worship experience. Worshiping on the lawn of the church is considered to be a special, yet unusual event, while hiding every Sunday behind four walls is considered to be “normal.”
When Jesus and his disciples traveled, they most likely did according to what was customary. Most of the time, when parties traveled together, they would perform activities, such as singing, playing, music, reading out loud and having deep conversations and debates. When reading the Gospels, one could easily imagine this to be the case when Jesus traveled from place to place with his message.
The message that the Church has to offer, is that God loves us with such an incomprehensible love, that he had to give us his only Son so that through his death on a Cross we might begin to understand the mystery of his eternal love for us. The good news should produce a joy in us that would lead us to not only revel in God’s grace, but also to share the message of salvation with others.
The easiest way to do this is to simply take the joy of our salvation and express it outside of the church walls! Doesn’t the world need to know that there is an “Amazing Grace” available for them through the Cross? So then why not sing our hymnody outside of our church walls and let our Pastor-Teachers preach the Gospel outside?
When we worship outside, we are telling the world, through our actions, that the Gospel message is indeed for everyone, and not just an exclusive club inside a building. When we worship outside, we are saying to the world that we care for them so much, that we are willing to share with them the greatest joy of our lives- Jesus Christ.
By sitting around our Pastors while they are teaching, we produce the visual perception that what the preachers have to say is worth listening to. Its like when you stand in the middle of a crowd and suddenly look up. In a few moments everyone else will begin to look up as well. In the same manner, when you sit around your Pastor in a public place, not only do you help to make him become a better teacher and evangelist; you are telling the world that what he has to say is extremely important.
It is time to abandon our cloistered practices and begin to celebrate the joy of our Salvation outside our temple walls.
So get out there and worship your God! Your church can plan ahead for an outdoor worship experience and then meet at a public place outside the church property. Places such as public parks, city plazas, beaches and apartment complexes, make excellent places of worship where people will see and hear the joy of your salvation.
The world needs to know that God loves them and worshiping outside is the easiest way of doing that. Besides… after the worship service we can open up our picnic baskets and invite our visitors to share a sandwich with us. Which is exactly what the early Church used to do after their service- it was called the “Agape” or “Love Feast.” At that time the visitors would experience firsthand the joy and fellowship of the Christian community. Interestingly, it was also at that time when the Church had Holy Communion before the ritual became formalized and constrained to traditional liturgies.
Through cloistered Communion practices, the Church is saying that fellowship with God is extremely removed from the masses and that it excludes anyone who is not a club member. But when the Church has Holy Communion outside the temple walls, they proclaim that the Body and Blood of Christ is for the salvation of the whole world- and that God invites them to have fellowship with him through his Son.
Jesus and his disciples didn’t sit around waiting for people to come to them. Jesus took his message to the people, while his disciples supported that message by asking questions, worshiping, and listening to his teachings while publicly traveling. Most of the miracles that Jesus performed were done while he was traveling and his disciples were following him. Perhaps if we followed Jesus outside of our temple walls, we too will see miracles. Especially the miracle of salvation sprouting in the heart of a sinner after hearing the Gospel.