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
    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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One Day’s Wages

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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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