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The Sunday Experience

Updated: Oct 30, 2018


‘Maybe it’s a West Coast thing’ was my initial thought when I first heard the term, the “Sunday Experience”.  To me, it sounded vague and gimmicky or a concept fashioned by megachurches to make themselves look relevant or hip.  Because in my mind, there was no such thing as the Sunday Experience just like there was no Friday or Saturday Experience.  I simply called it, “church”.  Or, “Sunday service”.  So when one of our former pastors from Los Angeles originally relayed this expression to me, I remained quizzical.

But then over the next few weeks, I would encounter this phrase again in my conversations with people at church, or perusing Christian websites. I would hear it spoken from our very own pulpit or referred to in meetings. Articles were written about this sort of thing, and published books.

Why, at some churches, whole teams were put together and mobilized to ensure a very positive, and rewarding Sunday Experience.

Soon enough, I was beginning to realize that this Sunday Experience was a very real and tangible phenomenon that had somehow become formalized into regular church lexicon (kind of like the word “unpack” which I normally use with reference to luggage).

The idea of a Sunday Experience might be confusing to some but we’ve all been there before at one time or another.  When we first visit a church, we take in a lot of the details – the parking situation, the building facade, the mood or ambiance as soon as we enter those front doors; we take a look at the people.  And this is before we even step foot inside the main sanctuary or sit through an actual service!  The Sunday Experience put another way is a first impression if you will, especially for visitors and newcomers to the church.

So that then begs the question, well, what exactly is the Sunday Experience at Open Door Presbyterian Church?

Most people assume that the Sunday Experience is simply a formula of praise, sermon, and fellowship. Unfortunately, churches are often assessed based on the production quality of their services, the musical ability of their worship bands, or the public speaking skills of their lead pastors (see North Point Media’s spoof on the “Contemporvant Service”).

But for this current issue of Threshold, we dare to defy the standard and offer a Sunday Experience that is far more diverse, and far more enriching than your average Sunday service.

Come inside our doors and take a look at our recent Art Initiative, “The Father’s Heart”, a joint collaboration between two ministries, 9 to 5: Work and Faith and AO Creative (taken from Alpha to Omega).  Join us as we participate in February’s missions month where speakers and missionaries across the globe exhort us to love and pray for their cities.  Pop into a Daniel DTS class and parley with some of the students there as they discuss the love of a radical God.  Or on your way out, stop by Pastor Brian Mendoza’s office and share your thoughts on social media and the meaning of hashtag blessed.

If we are offering a Sunday Experience at Open Door, we would hope it is one that reflects the glory of God.  The Sunday Experience isn’t meant to be some consumer-friendly feel good social function but an opportunity to worship together in God’s presence.  This is where life-changing grace happens and we are transformed by something more meaningful than a campus boundary or a couple hours spent inside a building.  We are freed by the good news of the gospel and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And through this reality, we ourselves become a part of the Sunday Experience because we’re living it, everyday of our lives.

Check out Pastor John Cha’s sermon on the Sunday Experience.

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