The Venue Church, a seeker-friendly Big-Box look-alike church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, decided to cancel church on the Lord’s Day, calling it a “Summer Sabbath.”
Complete with a video advertisement of fit figures jumping around on the beach, the church’s pastor, Tavner Smith, explained that “Hey, if God himself takes a day to rest, why shouldn’t we?”
In lieu of being an ecclesia, or gathered assembly, the “church” instead gave its members permission to forgo the fellowship of the saints and instead tune into a very brief inspirational talk and spectator-driven ‘worship’ performance on the Internet.
‘Pastor’ Smith’s motivation for canceling the Lord’s Day assembly seems to be in response to the congregation’s desire to get out and enjoy the summer, forsaking the assembly guilt free. And so, Smith and Venue Church gives their church permission to break the Fourth Commandment, canceling services as a way to be sensitive to their sinful desires.
After the virtual ‘worship service’ in which three men sat on stools singing, Smith got back on camera and the first thing he did was encourage the church “not to forget to give today.”
Smith said, “I got something to share with you but before I do, I want to take just a moment to remind you to not forget to give today. I know we’re not in the building, maybe you can’t write your check physically, but this might be the perfect time for you to do all your giving online.”
He continued, “My favorite thing about my online giving is that you can set up reoccuring giving. You don’t even have to think about it. And so you move forward or just before you log out before the minute…go to our app and give. They’re safe. They’re secure. But if you don’t want to do that, you can text the gift….”
Smith’s appeal to online giving was about as long as his devotional.
The ‘pastor’ began his brief sermonette before the water by saying that before he left his own vacation, he wanted to do his film in front of the ocean, because it reminds you how big God is.
Then, with all the Scriptural expositional prowess of a grapefruit, Smith began by saying, “As I had that thought, here’s all I wanted to say to you in this brief devotional together…since we have a God this big, ‘just go for it.’
“‘Just go for what?” Smith asked himself.
“I don’t know,” Smith said. “What is it in your heart you really want to do?”
He then gave the typical seeker-friendly mini-sermon about accomplishing the dreams that God placed in your heart.
Smith didn’t include mentions of Scripture, Jesus, sin, or the Gospel in his motivational beach message.
While there are differences of opinion in Christendom as to whether or not the Fourth Commandment is fulfilled by a New Testament Sabbath on Sunday or whether Sunday worship is simply “the Lord’s Day” and distinct from the Old Testament command, it is clear that one day out of seven should be a day of worship set apart for the Lord.
You can watch the video below.
And in the New Testament, that day is to be an assembly of people (Hebrews 10:25), and just as in the Old Testament, the day was a public convocation (Exodus 12:16).
Smith seems to suggest that we need a rest from worship. For real Christians, worship is our rest.