Today, at the church Jon and I go to when we’re in Whitby, they held the service outside. It was the perfect day to hold an outdoor service. Sunny but not too hot, with a breeze to keep things cool. The service consisted of singing praise and between songs, people came up to share testimonies and inform the congregation of the various ministries in the church (one of the coolest ministries is Body and Soul, which is a 2x/wk fitness class with a devotional side to it). And that was the whole service. Just worshiping together outside in God’s beautiful creation, and rejoicing with those who shared their testimonies as well as hearing of the good work being done in the church.
What a great reminder that corporate worship need not be confined to an inner sanctuary or chapel, because God is not confined within a space and thus we do not necessarily have to go in to a set space in order to meet with Him. I like how our pastor put it last week when he announced that this week would be an outdoor service:
I prefer calling this place the “auditorium” instead of the “sanctuary”, because God is not only here. The OT tabernacle and temple were sanctuaries, because God’s presence dwelt there. But now, through Christ’s sacrifice, we are free to worship Him anywhere. So why not have a service outside?
(This is also why we are allowed to bring in tea and coffee, and there is the option to sit at round tables instead of the pews during service. Really a neat, liberating ideal.)
Since the service was held on the front lawn of the church, we were visible and audible to the people and cars passing by, which in itself is a great form of witnessing corporately as a congregation. And it’s the easiest way to witness as you literally are outside for all to see, instead of being hidden within the walls of a church. I wish churches could do this kind of thing more. Granted, this congregation is small, and has a big property (it’s a school on the weekdays and thus has a field behind it), but it’s something I hope that larger churches can try, even if it’s just within their fellowships. I really enjoyed this experience of outdoor congregational worship!