Vertical or horizontal?

I was involved in a discussion recently concerning the structure of church services and the community’s involvement in the service… One of the values everyone agreed upon was the need for the church community to feel responsibility for one another and to express that as part of their duty to teach and admonish one another.

Initially the conversation revolved around ways in which that responsibility can be expressed in a church service. Including: prayer request moments, sharing/testimony spots, interviews and teaching each other in song – the basic value in each of these was that a variety of lay people should be involved in the service.

Soon after the conversation moved towards getting the balance right between the horizontal and the vertical. What I mean by that is, emphasising the gathering to teach and encourage one another (horizontal) and emphasising the gathering to worship together (vertical).


This provoked a thought; by emphasising the vertical in the church service don’t you manage to hit both anyway? By gathering together for corporate worship (lets not forget that’s what Church is) we, in a sense, enact what it is that gives us fellowship with one another. We come together in awe of Christ at Church, because we come together in Christ as he breaks down the wall that divided us. It is our union with him that has made us one.

I plan to post some more thoughts as to what doing ‘the vertical’ might look like a bit later…But in the meantime, I would be interesting to know how ‘vertical churches’ go at generating strong, healthy communities where people teach and admonish one another.

I’d be fascinated to hear where your church lands on this scale, and how your Church is going at generating a community that has responsibility for one another.

So, tell me…


3 Responses to “Vertical or horizontal?”

  1. I think we (7fifteen @St Pauls Carlingford) tend to have an almost even balance of both. On average we’ll sing 4 songs during the service, have 1-2 prayers led by a member of the congregation, sermon and bits in between.

    We’re encouraged from the front to talk and pray with each other over the sermon and other things relevant to each other in the community.

    I guess the horizontal can be a bit harder since we’re quite large, so knowing each other, caring and loving them can be difficult. On one hand you want to deeply care for people, but then it makes it hard to accept new people.

  2. I think a lot of majority world Christians would find us quite wimpy. Whilst we get irritated with church services that last beyond an hour, some of them can have three hours + of singing, preaching and praying followed by extended hours of fellowship.

  3. Stephengardner Says:

    Chong- thanks for sharing what happens at your church. That’s great to hear.
    Matt- I think you’re right about many people finding us whimpy. Do you think ‘world Christians’ have more of an emphasison on the ‘vertical’ in their services? And do you think that might be connected to a willingness to hit the horizontal in fellowship outside of the service?
    I’m speaking in massive generalisations here…
    Sorry for not getting back to either of you sooner. Essays and exams have dominated my time.

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