After a spiritual experience at a German prayer meeting on Aldersgate Street in London on May 24, 1738, John Wesley was not welcomed to preach in most of the churches in London. The message that we are saved by faith, not good works was not welcomed or accepted by the other pastors in London. A friend, Whitefield was preaching in the fields at Bristol but Wesley was reluctant to preach outdoors. He thought it was tacky! He accepted Whitefield’s invitation to “come and see” and went to that field in Bristol, and was so impressed he agreed to preach there the next Sunday. Wesley was moved by what he saw God doing in the lives of these poor, simple people who were not welcome in the local churches. 3000 people, on a hillside with an old pulpit set in the grass and dirt, suddenly, Tacky didn’t apply. Wesley, a High-Church minister, was about to receive a revelation! 3,000 poor and ordinary people on a hillside, not church goers, who listened to the word of God’s love and transforming power. We always remember the sermon on the mount and Jesus speaking to a multitude of people who continued to gather even as he spoke. Throughout the Bible God’s word was preached and the good news shared with all people in all places, the venue was never the determining factor. There was a time as the good news went out that people would meet in caves or a home due to the persecution of those who had become known as “people of the way”. Where there were no established meeting places people would gather outside the cities in small groups. “Where one or more are gathered in my name….” The people wanted to hear the word, location and comfort were not considered.
Recently the church board decided that it might be time to look at our sanctuary and consider a renovation. Of course leading up to the final vote of approval have been discussions about, cost, physical changes, time will start and of course time it will be completed. Here in these discussions lie the heart of the matter. More and more churches are replacing pews with chairs, this can become an issue along with colors, carpet, church furniture, placement of pulpit, lectern, altar, music and of course tradition:
“a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time”
I have really had no firm position on Chairs or Pews but like many church folks I have a vision of what a sanctuary looks like from years of repetitive Sunday worship services. Now I am being asked to select one or the other. After some research
I decided it did not matter that much. I came to the conclusion that standing in a field, sitting on a hillside or benches on a dirt floor does not hinder the word being heard or praise being lifted up. In all these places we can find our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I would not call that Tacky. Either way, come and see. You will find me about nine pews or row of chairs from the front. If I still can’t make my mind up, I’ll be sitting in the floor in the back. Thanks for coming by today.
Life is Good