By Samuel Lam
Before I moved to Southern California and visited Trinity Church for the first time, I was part of a mobile house church that I had been attending for about half the time I was going to school in San Jose. It was different from all the other churches I had attended. One of the things that really captivated me was that during Sunday services, we would actually set up the chairs in a circle. The idea of the circle was to allow everyone to see one another and make it easy to open up discussion. Rather than just have the pastor talk the whole time, it was encouraged for everyone to talk and ask questions. The idea was that it was essential to not just sit and soak in information, but to actively think about the information and use different mediums, such as discussion, to drive the point home.
It was probably the best church experience I ever had in my life. It was different from what I had experienced before. But it was so good for me. Not only did I get a chance to learn differently, but it help me learn that I may have insight that other people of the church never even considered. We all learned with each other.
This past Sunday at Trinity, it was announced that a similar approach would take place on Sundays. Pastor Albert Hung reiterated that as comfortable and easy it is to sit every Sunday and just listen to a lecture sermon for 45 minutes, not much of it is retained. In fact, most of it gets forgotten soon down the line. That’s not a great way for believers to spend their Sundays with one another.
Instead of being imitators, we should be innovators, Albert said. What is the point of holding onto old customs and traditions when it isn’t as effective anymore. With the change of the times, so must we change with it.
Trinity is embarking on a new approach to Sundays. It’s not a completely 180-degree change. Instead of sitting and just soaking in 45 minutes of talking from the pastor, we’re going to encourage one another to openly ask questions, join in on a discussion. The most important thing about our weekly gatherings with fellow believers on Sunday is that we learn with one another, learn from each other. Our brain shouldn’t be like sponges, just soaking up information. Our brains should be actively thinking. When we discuss and put our brains to use, we retain and understand better.
What’s most exciting about the change that’s coming is the interaction. When I was in San Jose, the best part about my church was that I got to know my fellow brothers and sisters better because we were actively discussing the word. It was great knowing that we were all learning from one another.
I can picture that with Trinity. There are so many faces I see on Sundays that I know by name, but that’s really it. I see them right before service and afterward, I see them as they go off back home. Sometimes it’s hard to spend a minute and just get to know one another. But what about 45 minutes every Sunday in an interactive service? I’m on board with that.
When Jesus taught, whether it was in crowds or with his disciples, he always wanted to avoid talking all the time. Have you noticed how many times Jesus always asked someone else what their thoughts or interpretations were? Jesus knew that an interactive learning environment has a lot of staying power in one’s mind and heart. And of course, Jesus also wanted the believers to know that their voice matters.
I hope that you’re excited about the new approach to Sunday services at Trinity. It might take some getting used to — but I think that we can grow and learn together in a way that would be simply amazing. May God continue to bless this great community and our passion to know Him more.
Samuel Lam: Samuel is a Bay Area native living in Southern California working in sports media. He blogs on many topics, including sports, music, movies, travel and especially faith. Sam also runs his own personal sports blog on his free time. Check him out at: Green Eggs and Lam & But At The End Of The Day.