Growing up in the assemblies was not easy for a young man with a sense of searching and innovation. I grew up in the gospel hall system and never understood why they were so negative when people approached the elders to give their opinion or propose new things.
I saw lots of people coming through our doors and leaving our assembly because our leadership never wanted to give opportunity to others or to listen to those who wanted to see our assemblies grow and expand.
I was saved when I was 15 at a national bible camp and the Lord started working in my heart. My sense of appreciation for what Jesus did on the cross made a big impact in my life. The breaking of bread service turned into something meaningful and inspiring but it was still a boring format. Long prayers, acapella singing, only hymns that never included any new repertory. What really made me feel so frustrated was the way people sang the hymns.
Seriously, a funeral was more alive that our breaking of bread services.
I never invited my friends to our church services because I always thought that our meeting wasn’t interesting, and it was too long.
Be part of the solution
Normally when we don’t see changes happen, our first reaction is to leave the assemblies and move to another church. My goal was to stay, do something, and make the difference.
So, I started learning new hymns with other young people. We practiced them and began using them during breaking of bread.
When I went to study in our assembly bible institute I moved to another city. That gave me opportunity to visit more assemblies and fellowship with like minded churches. I still remember my first Sunday attending an assembly that was referred to as liberal because of using instruments during the breaking of bread and a worship team during their family bible hour. I thought wow, this is great!! Same meeting (BoB) but with more enthusiasm. And there were excellent reflections about His sacrifice on the cross.
When I moved to Barranquilla (where I serve with ECS ministries and small churches ministry), the Lord gave the opportunity to three of us to start a new assembly in the north of our city. Others from the original assembly moved with us. It was refreshing to sit with likeminded christians who loved the Lord and wanted to see his name glorified, but also realized that we needed to make format changes.
We decided to make changes in the way the assemblies see and celebrate the Lord’s supper. Our singing is lively and accompanied with instruments. It is strong singing at a faster tempo. We don’t have long pauses between singing.
Our men are encouraged to prepared short reflections. We suggest to those who will take part to be brief and to not forget that it’s not a sermon. Each Sunday, there is a man scheduled to start the communion service.
I remember the first time we stood to sing Holy, Holy, Holy. I went “wow” as people raised their hands and very loudly sang this glorious hymn, proclaiming God’s holiness.
Since then my thoughts on the worship service have solidified. It should be a time where God’s people freely and joyfully express their adoration to the Lord. This isn’t about us-this is about him.
An example I use with our youth group is that when we go to the stadium, we celebrate with strong voices every time one of our players makes a goal. Our excitement is very intense and uncontainable! If we celebrate temporary victories in such way, why not be expressive when we approach God’s presence to celebrate and remember His triumph that is ours too?!
Solemn singing doesn’t equal godliness
Some people misunderstand this. They think that singing should be slow and without any expression of joy. We find many references in the Bible about singing with joy in our hearts and coming to his presence with joyful songs. It is very interesting that there are more references in the Bible about music than heaven and every time music is mentioned it’s always related to God and his name. This means our God is musical and loves music.
Be an inspiration to others
Our Prado church regularly invites speakers from other assemblies and we always hear: “your singing and breaking of bread is always uplifting and inspiring.” Some have also expressed that this is different than other assemblies they have visited in the area.
We always praise the Lord for what He is doing among us. We understand the Lord’s supper should be a unforgettable experience each Sunday morning. Because this is about him.
Missed when away
Recently I made a trip to Canada where I visited a bunch of assemblies and we had the opportunity to break bread with them. I remember my mom looking at me and saying: “I miss Prado church.”
It is truly a unique communion experience that always makes us want to go back the next week.
We have people from our assembly who has moved to other cities and the first thing we hear is, “we miss Prado church. We miss the Lord’s supper time.” Recently a young man from our church moved to the capital, and we suggested a good assembly there, but he told us, “ boy, this church needs to learn a bit from our Prado church.” He instead started attending another assembly where he feels more at home.