From Pastor Tim — At the end of every month, our church practices Offering Sunday. Once a month on Offering Sunday, we give our tithe, and we hold each other accountable on how we have handled the scriptures, the songs, our witness to others, and on the disbursement of our tithes within our sphere of influence. If you’re a little curious on the specifics of what we do, Pastor Foley did a great job explaining the concept of the tithe and Offering Sunday in a July 2011 blog piece.
I wanted to share with you a little bit about our most recent Offering Sunday, because we did something a bit challenging and different. Remember, that our Sunday worship services are not traditional worship services with visitors and guests. They are leadership
training events, where household leaders receive guidance on leading their household worship in the coming week and testing on their leadership the prior week. Other household members are typically present, but they are there under the oversight of each household leader; the focus here is on equipping and assessing the leaders. We believe that worship takes place in every household every day, and the Sunday training powers that. So, on this particular leadership training day we all played a Jeopardy style quiz game.
This was certainly fun (especially for the children), although we didn’t do this for the purpose of having fun. We also didn’t do it for the purpose of testing our “Bible Trivia” knowledge. The purpose was actually much more serious. We wanted to challenge ourselves and really see if we were committing to memory the Scriptures, Songs and Liturgy, not just from the past month . . . but from the whole year!
During this game, we reviewed Scripture references, the first lines of songs, the exact wording of the Scriptures themselves, and pieces of our liturgy. And would you believe we were even tested on the punctuation of the Nicene Creed!? Remember that punctuation changes everything. For example, “Let’s eat grandma . . . or . . . Let’s eat, grandma.”
Some of the leaders of DOTW fellowship wondered aloud if we were being a bit too technical on what we were being tested on, and I have to admit that it crossed my mind as well. But by wondering aloud, we were able to talk together on why or why not this kind of memorization was necessary. For example, I shared that the last time I was oversees, I was called upon to lead a church service, scripture memorization, singing, preaching and communion. And if this ever happens again, and I don’t have my Bible or my hymnal, but I’ve committed all these elements to memory, then I’m able to do this in any place and at any time.
If we consider this example, a little closer to home, it might be practical to think about sharing a scripture passage with a friend. If you have committed the scripture passage to memory, then you are able to share that passage with your friend regardless of whether you have the hard copy of your Bible with you. And to be honest, I don’t often carry my Bible to the grocery store, the gas station, or the park.
The memorization that our church does is not for the purpose of creating an extensive list of do’s and don’ts. And it’s not an additional list of good works that we believe are needed to please God. It’s a realization that in order to grow in Christ there are certain things that we need to commit ourselves to do. Essentially, it’s a commitment to both hear and do the word, like the wise man in the Matthew 7:24-27 passage.
And in case you haven’t noticed, a common theme for everyone in our church (not just the pastor) is to be ready to “preach, pray or die at a moment’s notice.”
Ultimately, most of our DOTW church leaders did okay with our game show, but each of us were also challenged to commit ourselves to grow in our knowledge of God’s word and the essentials of the faith.