Eugene Cho

why sundays still matter…

worship at quest

In conversations with people about the state of [Western] christianity, people can be all over the map.  And at times, I think it’s because we’re really that desperate, that upset, that disillusioned, or that [insert word here].  And then, there are times we just want to make a crazy statement to sound edgy and prophetic.  Yo, it’s pomo, bro.

One of those crazy conversations surrounds the topic of the corporate worship gatherings known to most people as ‘Sunday worship services.’  

I want to contend –  that whether it’s on a Sunday or another day – that gathering as a unified faith community is very important and healthy.  Or more accurately, it is one aspect of a healthy faith community.

Now, don’t mistake what I’m saying.  I’m not a big fan of big productions, fancy shows, gift giveaways, fireworks, etc. Nor am I a fan of all or most of the staff and financial budget being invested in the production of the Sunday “event.” But the essence of people coming together…in the context of the larger ministry that goes beyond Monday – Saturday – is good and beautiful. 

Quest gets our shares of visitors because they’ve heard some buzz.  But I find it funny that when they visit, most folks walk away very disappointed because it’s pretty plain:  We worship in songs.  We share community news.  We have that awkward 5 minutes of ‘greet your neighbors.’  We read the Scriptures.  We have a long exegetical sermon.  We celebrate communion.  And then we worship in song some more.  And we sing the Benediction.

It’s not fancy but it still matters to us.  It’s important.

So, instead of the ideas of doing away with Sundays, maybe we should actually be applauding it and examining what’s really lacking:  a deeper, holistic, and consistent theology of life, community, and missions to be lived out each day of the week.  

What do you think?

On that note, I wrote this note to my church community this week:

My hope for Quest has always been that we are not just a Sunday community. As I shared recently, we don’t just want to have one front door at Quest but numerous doors and windows by which people can see the fragrance of God through our community and ministry. This is why community groups, focus groups such as Mystery of Hope [depression and anxiety], our Compassion and Justice and Global Presence ministries, the To the Streets, our global initiatives, and Q Café are so important to our church’s desire to be a presence to the larger city and beyond.

But having said that, we also care about the one opportunity we have each week on Sundays to gather for our ‘larger family gathering.’ It’s important as we collectively read the Scriptures, worship, hear the proclamation of the Scriptures, celebrate the sacrament of communion, and enjoy fellowship together.

It’s also important because it allows newcomers and visitors to experience, examine, scrutinize, and check out Quest – ultimately in hopes of people growing closer to the truth and gospel of Christ. Sundays are also important because it is an opportunity for you to invite your friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

Last Sunday, I had a conversation with a visitor who was invited to Quest through a random conversation he had with two people at Quest on the streets of Seattle. They were complete strangers but one thing led to another and then to an invitation to Quest. He shared that he was new to Seattle and feeling overwhelmed and lonely but felt being at Quest was a ray of hope for his spiritual journey.

And so, I hope that not only will be you be encouraged by the presence and ministry of Quest that takes place Monday through Saturday, you’ll also be blessed, encouraged, and convicted this Sunday.  Additionally, take a few moments to invite someone to join you this Sunday and in the weeks to come. I’m excited that we’ll be hosting two special friends this Sunday: the SOLD Project will talk about their initiative in fighting child slavery and prostitution and Trace Bundy will share some of his music.

See you this Sunday.

worship at quest

Filed under: church, churchplanting, emerging church, ministry, quest church, seattle

12 Responses

  1. Daniel says:

    It’s not that people are against Sundays but it’s what Sundays have become for many churches…a big show.

  2. Well said, Eugene. There has been so much cynicism regarding what Sunday has become at so many churches that it has caused some (including me at times) to disregard the potential beauty found in the gathering of a unified faith community.

  3. Wayne Park says:

    i’ve heard my share of anti-Sunday & anti-institution polemic, and it’s just that – a polemical reaction oftentimes laced w/ idealistic naivete. someone got their hands on some Alan Hirsch and took a good thing too far.

  4. elderj says:

    Well I’m a big believer in the need for “Sunday worship” both as an extension of the sabbath principle (which we are very very slack in honoring) and as a counter to the already ingrained self-centeredness of our contemporary lives. It is good to worship together, to gather with people that are not like ourselves (or maybe are) but who are commonly united by our faith and following of the Lord Jesus Christ. And even if Sunday worship does become a bit of a production, there is some value in that because even if we don’t “connect” with what’s going on, that too is a reminder that it really isn’t about us anyway.

  5. […] Eugene Cho, lead pastor of Quest Church in Seattle, recently wrote a great blog post, Why Sundays Still Matter. Here’s a great quote from that post: … gathering as a unified faith community is very […]

  6. chad m says:

    awesome stuff Eugene. awesome stuff. since the Christian Century wrote an article titled, “The None Zone,” back in December describing the state of Christianity in the Pac NW, i’ve been thinking about Sunday mornings a lot. especially since we have a lot of folks in our church that are deeply committed Christians, deeply committed to the ministries they lead, but see regular church attendance as a nuisance. just recently a couple said, “10:45 am is a bad time for our family. once we come into town and worship the whole day is shot. you know, you get out of church at noon and you’re like, ‘where’d the day go?'” i kid you not. and these are people who are committed Christians.

    i’m finding myself wondering [stop me if i’m going too far], CAN SOMEONE BE A CHRISTIAN AND NOT GO TO CHURCH? that is, can someone really be a Christ follower but not show up to fellowship, worship, participate in the large gathering of the body of Christ? it’s, at max, two hours of your week! if we can give two hours, that’s sad.

    then again, i’d like to believe that if i wasn’t on staff at a church i’d be a regular church attender anyway, but sometimes the mountains, the pillow, and Starbucks call…

  7. Eric Blauer says:

    Great thoughts Eugene…

    I’m amazed at how many people are disillusioned with the idea of living out their Jesus Journey with other believers in concrete, practical, measurable ways. No matter what the form, “this mountain or that”, as Jesus put it…the discipline of caring for prolonged relationships; is a reality that is and has been undermined in our culture.

    Broken homes, materialism, self as compass and a host of other cultural malaise has eroded the trust in the very thing that most people deep down long for…meaningful friendships, purpose for existence and an identity that extends beyond oneself. All these are discovered in time, in true church life…even in the good, the bad and the ugly of it all.

    Eric Blauer
    Jacob’s Well
    http://www.jacobswellspokane.com
    Spokane, WA

  8. Tyler says:

    meeting consistently is biblical so therefore churches should continue to do so. i do have a wonder what the “unified” body of Christ means. does that mean everyone that calls a church home meets in the same room at the same time? does that mean that those same people meet in separate places in smaller groups?

  9. Travis says:

    in response to a question here: I do think that you can not be a christian who is only concerned with yourself. Part of christianity is realizing that we all have a need for God and helping each other as the feet and hands. But I think that question can be loaded.
    Do you have to attend a “sunday morning service”? I don’t think so. If it is not how you worship, if it is not how you connect with others, then i saw it is possible. Maybe for some worship is too personal to share with others. I often feel that way for my self, and I work at a church. Maybe the conection comes from serving others. But to require a sunday morning service, especially if you can’t find one that isn’t a “production” is asking to compromise value over quantity.

  10. eugenecho says:

    @tyler: i think “unified” can mean different things for different churches or faith communities. we’re at three services so the idea of being at one physical space all at the same time is impossible.

  11. Brian says:

    Good Post.

    Wayne Park, yours was the best blog comment I’ve read all week!

  12. Jana says:

    I am with you on the resources thing, for so many of us, services are treated as the backbone of church, even where we say we think otherwise. Resources for services are often the biggest expenditure (money and time) as well as the most important (last thing to ditch).

    Perhaps we need to find a sense of purpose for these regular gatherings. Why should each one look the same? Patterns are important in the life of a community but they should be reflexive to the particularities of that community as well as to the point in the journey at which we find ourselves. As ‘new churches’ we tend to think of ourselves as freer than the old locked up Anglicans but we have just replaced old dogmas with new ones. How do we learn to do gatherings deliberately?

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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

#mountrainier
#seattle
#northwestisbest

my tweets

  • Boom. Final fishing trip. Grateful. A nice way to end my 3 month sabbatical. #catchandrelease twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 20 hours ago
  • Christians: May we be guided by the Scriptures that remind us, "Seek first the Kingdom of God" and not, "Seek first the kingdom of America." || 21 hours ago
  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 3 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 3 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 3 days ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 6 days ago