Proof that the Church Service is Not the Gate of Heaven

Our church is fond of teaching us that the Sunday service, especially the worship, is the ‘Gate of Heaven’. Most weeks we are told that it should be the highlight of our week, and that what we receive on Sunday should ‘get us through’ the rest of the week.

Well now I have definitive proof that this is not so.

My little boy today spent the entire worship session complaining.

“Shhh – quiet please”, I’d request when he became too loud or boisterous. He’s allowed to run around, but not in such a way that other people get too disturbed by it.

“But Mummy, I’m boooorrreed…. It’s boorrring…. Mummy, I’m soo boorrred… Can I go now???… When can we go???…” he’d reply.

If this service was the ‘Gate of Heaven’ there’s no way my son would be this bored. He’d be blown away! He wouldn’t be begging to leave.

So I wish they’d stop teaching this ‘Gate of Heaven’ rubbish about the Sunday service, or that it’s supposed to get us through the week. It’s great when its good, but if my access to God was dependent upon my participation in the service, I’d be in a pretty sorry place.

18 thoughts on “Proof that the Church Service is Not the Gate of Heaven

  1. Another heresy. It’s about time we start putting faces to the wolves who start such nonsense. I’m so completely over wolves! We need to start making an expose of them.

  2. Well, if you had any kind of control over your son, perhaps he might not be such an ill-mannered little imp. Have you not heard of kid’s church?

  3. Hi Poider, welcome.

    Ha! I was wondering if I’d get a response like that from someone.

    Of course my son is a terrible, badly mannered monster, and I never discipline him. Children should be seen and not heard. I am clearly an incompetent mother.

    One can discipline a child during a service, but usually the child responds with a great deal of noise. In the context of a church service, this is highly disruptive, and exacerbates the problem one is trying to resolve. There are limits to what one can do. When it’s gone too far, we take them outside the service.

    I’m one of the team involved in the kid’s church ministry. But at our church we don’t have it during the worship time. The kids stay in with us until the preaching is about to start, and there’s a brief period of about 5 minutes in which if we get back from dropping them in with kid’s church in time, we can actually participate.

    What that means for me and the other parents of small children there is that while our kids are there we can’t participate fully in the worship part of the service. We do our best, but many of us are running after the kids when they get too out of hand. Some of us keep our kids outside the hall when they are too small to do as they are told (without serious loud and disruptive protests), and try to bring them in as they get older and more able to handle it. The need for this varies with each child.

    All the parents of small kids sit up the back behind everyone else where there is space for prams and kids to move around, so it is less disruptive, but can get noisy. We all do our best.

    One way my family solves this problem – and we are not the only family that does this – is to turn up late, skipping most of the worship time since we can’t participate fully anyway, and just bring the kids in for the last 5 or 10 minutes which they can take. That spares both us and the rest of the congregation.

    My family only comes for the entire worship service when we have to help set up for kid’s church before the service starts, and help out in there later.

    To their credit, the pastors at my church are very understanding and supportive of all the parents there as they have been in the same boat in the not too distant past.

    Luckily for me, although I do enjoy participating in traditional worship on Sundays, true worship is not restricted to just that form, and includes our whole lives.

  4. Kid’s church is great where we are and my son absolutely loves it. But I wonder what they did with the kids in New Testament times?

    When we sometimes fellowship with other Christians as a different form of church, the kids just run around and play together, and can see the adults talking, praying etc. They see our example and learn that way, rather than being occupied in a formal fashion. This could be an even better way for kids to learn the basics of our faith.

  5. You’re not in New Testament time are you? So that’s a pointless question.

    As for the rest, yeah, maybe you’re right. Why don’t you start your own church and do it your way and stop moaning about all the things you don’t like at your other church? What a concept.

  6. It’s been said that 50 years ago, 12 year kids were more biblically literate than most Christian adults today. Where were those kids? Sitting with their parents – it is the responsibility of parents to spiritually lead their children (more importantly the fathers) with the help of the church, not the other way around.

    RP, I like the sound of your fellowship – sounds like the NT to me. Oh for a perfect 1950’s world!

  7. Hi Speedy, you still haven’t told us what interests you about this site. There must be something, or you wouldn’t bother. But clearly you don’t like a lot of what I and others say – which is fine.

    I’ve already explained why I’m still at my current church in earlier posts, but in this case, I wasn’t actually moaning about the way kid’s church is done, rather just explaining why the kids are actually in there during the worship in response to Poinder’s comment. I’m actually content with it that way, despite the challenges.

    I am interested in why you think it’s pointless to wonder what happened in NT times. As you say, we’re not in them now. But many churches justify their practices based on interpretations of the NT, including their understanding of its cultural setting, so it seems strange that you would dismiss that as pointless unless you see the NT as pointless. Which of course you may, but I wouldn’t know, as you’ve disclosed very little about yourself.

  8. BTW, Speedy and Poider – do either of you believe that the church service is the ‘gate of heaven’?

  9. Well, it was Jacob who named Bethel and designated it as the Gate of Heaven, because he had an encounter with God there, saying, “Surely the Lord is in this place!”

    I would have thought any place where the Lord brings heaven into the earth could be called the Gate of Heaven, and this is obviously what is meant.

    It could be said to be presumptuous to call a church meeting the Gate of Heaven, but then, having expectations of a visitation isn’t unworthy in itself, and technically, the Lord if present when we gather, since he said he would never leave us nor forsake us.

    I don’t think anyone would really have a problem with worship leaders or service leaders announcing an expectation of the presence of God, or a special visitation, particularly in a Pentecostal setting, and referencing the gates of Heaven as the place where heaven meets the earth during a meeting, but then, you know this. maybe I’m being equally presumptuous, but it seems to me that you might just be looking for things to have a dig at your church about, which isn’t a healthy sign.

  10. Yes, absolutely, I am aware of Jacob and Bethel.

    I agree that expecting or hoping for a visitation or the presence of God is a good thing.

    Fair enough to suggest I might be just looking for something to have a dig about too. This has been niggling at me for some time though. However – if anyone sees me talking too much about personal experiences here, it might be a good time to post up an alternative! More authors are welcome.

    The teaching I am under is that we have to come to church to be at the Gate of Heaven. It has been said by a variety of preachers/teachers over me that while we can access God’s presence in a small group meeting, or a gathering of two or three, we can’t really access the fullness of His presence in the way we can in the church service. This is because the church when gathered is Bethel, the Gate of Heaven. As the small groups aren’t the fullness of the church that the Sunday meeting does, wjo;e they are good, they aren’t the gate of heaven. So unless we go on a Sunday, we are missing out on being in the presence of God in the fullest possible way.

  11. I have tried above to state what we are taught in an objective, factual and non-judgemental way!

  12. FL:”having expectations of a visitation isn’t unworthy in itself”

    I am in Christ and Christ is in God. How could God ever not be present?

    In my church it was actually taught that the gateway to heaven is only in the sunday services and not in the home groups or other meetings. Can anyone explain this doctrine? I hope it is other than as a not so subtle manipulation to attend more regularly but I can’t see any scriptural basis.

  13. If the teaching is “we have to come to church to be at the Gate of Heaven’ then that is quite patently crap! Catholicism by another name – another intermediary between God and men and women.

    God is everywhere, and I thought a basic tenet at the core of Christianity was being indwelt by the Holy Spirit and having already received every spiritual blessing in Christ.

    Yes in many ways church fellowship (whatever form that takes) should be a foretaste of glory divine, but that sort of teaching if it is the case is an unnecessary gildng the lily and just another legalism which we can well do without.

    Welcome Poider – spoken like a true legalist – and I would have to say that my own bias is I can’t stand disruptive kids in church, but I like kids in church. And before anyone knocks me, I have four.

  14. Rp,
    ‘ It has been said by a variety of preachers/teachers over me that while we can access God’s presence in a small group meeting, or a gathering of two or three, we can’t really access the fullness of His presence in the way we can in the church service.’

    Well, if they’re saying this it is a nonsense. God can turn up for one, two, or any number of people at any time anywhere and do something outstanding.

    Christ is the door, once we enter in we are in. Oh well!

    ‘I am in Christ and Christ is in God. How could God ever not be present?’

    Well, true, but there are times when God seems to bring special visitations and exceptional things take place. But I don’t think you can make up rules about when, where and how.

  15. Thanks FL and MN. I share your understanding, rather than this nonsense that’s started being taught lately.

    Wow – 4 kids MN! I could probably learn a thing or two from you!

  16. Well, it was Jacob who named Bethel and designated it as the Gate of Heaven, because he had an encounter with God there, saying, “Surely the Lord is in this place!”

    Check out what I received today before I even came onto signposts tonight- Jacob’s dream was actually revelation in revealing the identity of Christ. Jacob saw God- God was a man standing. In this dream, the ladder was an antitype of Christ’s work on earth and heaven as King High Priest being a mediator between God and Man as both the Son of God and the Son of Man.
    Christ himself refers himself to being the ladder:

    Joh 1:51 He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

    Somewhere in Proverbs that refers to Christ as being a gate. Then Christ himself declares he is the gate or sheepgate. In an illustration he states that many stick to the wide and don’t go through the narrow gate- Himself. This is what I believe Christ represents too.

    The fist time we all encounter God, we enter through Him and are now of His eternal Kingdom. He welcomes us. This is the first time Jacob experiences God. No wonder He refers His personal encounter with God in this location as the ‘Gate of Heaven’- it’s his personal experience with God.

    Unfortunately, from Phil’s lips, he has related the ‘Gate of Heaven’ as a type of Stargate. Last year he bought this illustration up continually so people can give to the rise and build project- (so RCC). I’m angry with such ludicrous and pathetic doctrine. And he calls himself a pastor?

  17. Stargate! Oh boy.

    Looks like this doctrine is spreading at least in the local Sydney CCC movement. I don’t remember hearing it years ago.

    Yes, I agree that Jacob’s dream was a revelation of Christ in several ways. Its really sad to see it taught in such a false and limiting way. I hope this particular teaching doesn’t go further than the local churches, but I have a suspicion it’s not original.

    I think it is part of the open heaven theology that gets taught from time to time, and it was in that context that a visiting pastor from CCCOF taught it to us in one meeting, although of course other pastors have taught it as well without that degree of elaboration. I wonder if it’s taught at their pastor’s conferences, or is well known and popular in the US?

Comments are closed.