Communicate Your Assumptions

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The church I grew up in knew why we worshiped. We knew why we had Bible class. We knew that if the doors were opened we were going to be there. We didn’t need much explanation because we had been doing these things since we were little. Fortunately and unfortunately many in congregations today did not grow up with this same set of assumptions and expectations. I say fortunately because that means lost and “unchurched” people are being reached. Because of that we face a new challenge of having to re-examine those things we have always done but never slowed down enough to examine the underlying assumptions or realized that not everyone shared our assumptions on.

It is dangerous to think everyone has the same set of assumptions or at least understands the assumptions that underlie much of what we do.

Let’s look at Bible class attendance and the assumptions behind them as an example. In many churches roughly 50% of those in the worship assembly attend Bible class. This could be due to differences in assumptions between attenders and non-attenders or between church leadership and church members.

Possible faulty assumptions leading to class non-attendance:

  • As long as I show up for something it is enough or what God expects.
  • I can get filled through the sermon and singing
  • I am a good person and that is enough
  • God is graceful, so hopefully he isn’t really taking attendance since we aren’t saved by works anyway
  • I am sure you could list some better ones than these

Yet we (leadership) assume:

  • If you offer a class people will come
  • If you advertise it people will come
  • If it is quality people will come
  • If it addresses a particular need in the congregation people will come

But often they still don’t. We keep doing things the same way and things don’t improve. Maybe we need to be more direct in engaging the congregation on these things and communicate rather than just assume. This is true in many other areas other than Bible class. What areas can you think of where we need to clearly identify, evaluate and communicate our assumptions in order to be more effective?

0 Responses

  1. How about why we decided to have small groups instead of a Sunday Evening “worship service” that practically duplicates Sunday morning – and which many assume is just so those “providentially hindered” can “take communion”?

    Jerry Starling,

  2. i was just reading last night about the introduction of sunday schools, and their purpose. they were started in england in the late 1700’s (or so) because of growing crime and poverty. a guy named raikes decided that these ill-effects were easier to prevent than to treat once they were occurring. so they started a “sunday school,” in which poor kids could gain instruction in both the bible and other basic and useful areas.

    it’s interesting that sunday school has now come to be common practice, and even considered necessary by many. i’m not arguing that the original and intended purpose of a thing should always be held firmly. but it is interesting how practices begin and (relatively) quickly become “law.”

    i heard (but do not know if it is true) that sunday night meetings originally began because of the introduction of the light bulb. people were all gathered to see it at night anyway, so preachers started preaching. and then later they decided that night would be a great time for farmers to attend a gathering, so that they could work during the day. no idea if that’s true, but i wouldn’t be surprised.

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