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Church is a Righteous Party

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I saw true celebration at a Greek restaurant. The band played, the grandmothers and grandchildren danced on tables, and everyone else threw napkins and shouted. You felt joy and saw the generations connecting. God wants his people to celebrate like that. He is the original sponsor of a righteo…
By Seth Barnes

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I saw true celebration at a Greek restaurant. The band played, the grandmothers and grandchildren danced on tables, and everyone else threw napkins and shouted. You felt joy and saw the generations connecting.

God wants his people to celebrate like that. He is the original sponsor of a righteous party. He put feasts into the calendar and told his people to celebrate them. When David’s mighty men joined forces, they cemented their unity with a three day party (1 Chron. 12:39).

Jesus was often found at house parties. His party-saving miracle of the wine probably caused more than a few eyebrows to raise. Pretty soon, he had a reputation for being a glutton and a drunkard (Matt. 11:19). 

Why haven’t we introduced people to this Jesus?

God wants to put joy in our hearts. It’s the second fruit of the Spirit listed (Gal. 5:22). When people have near-death experiences, they come back reporting a deep, overwhelming sense of peace and joy.

But what do we know about joy in our churches?

Ask a young person what they think about when you say the word church and they will likely answer, “I think of a place for hypocrites and meetings.” And that’s why they are leaving in droves.

But we all love parties – why aren’t we known for throwing them? The church should know more about righteous parties than anyone. We make Jesus Lord when we bring others into the atmosphere of a righteous party.

Some Christians, seeing the potential for debauchery and abuse, ban the things that make a party joyous. People drink too much, so they ban drinking. Dancing can become too sensual, so they ban dancing. People used to drink when they played cards, so those were on the no-go list too.

Church ladies running amok

Because we didn’t disciple our young people in self-governance, we did what we thought was the next-best thing. God bless them, when I was growing up, a thousand church ladies ran amok instituting the high guardrails of a list of rules to keep us in line.

So not knowing how to self-govern, when we left home, we left their rulebooks behind and went looking for joy in parties of our own making.

I don’t know about the rest of you who escaped what at times felt like the dungeons of church, but when I left, I was in a celebrating mood. The halls of Wheaton College still echo with the laughter that we discovered on our own. 

Giving up on self-governance, we church people prohibit. Prohibition was a failed experiment in the 1920s. Rather than leading to better behavior, it resulted in more crime.

I’m told that in Europe, young people are not as prone to abuse alcohol as they are in America. They grow up with wine bottles on the table. They learn to drink in moderation. Getting drunk is frowned upon.

Three signs of a righteous party

What should our parties look like?

1. Old and young together.

For one thing, they should be more intergenerational. Young people need to learn how to party from their elders. If the elders abdicate this responsibility, where will people learn to cut loose responsibly?

2. Interactive worship.

Thank God we are no longer fighting the battle of the hymnal. Yes, hymns are righteous and my parents’ generation will go to their graves singing them. But young people just needed their own spiritual songs.

The African-American church has much to teach white folks. Their services look much more like a party. If they sing hymns, they somehow make them interactive and joy-filled. People don’t feel confined by their pews.

Good music sung from the heart is a great place to start a party.

3. Spontaneity.

Throw away that church bulletin! Follow the Spirit – for heaven’s sake let him lead! Have you ever been in one of those dance circles at a wedding where people jump into the middle and strut their stuff to the applause of those around the circle? Why can’t church look like that?

God has not only given us permission, we see his encouragement all through Scripture. Celebrate! 

Are you like the parents of the guy in Big Fat Greek Wedding? Showing up to the dance-off with a bundt cake? Maybe it’s time to loosen your tie or kick off your heels. Ritual can be wonderful, but it can also be suffocating. 

Church is a righteous party – why not embrace it?

 

If you want more inspiration on the subject – check out this post.

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