Church Picnic Today - To GO or Not to Go. That is the question.

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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
Good morning friends,

I was going to post to "Reformed Covenanter blog posts on the Sabbath," but I didn't want to spoil the intent of that beneficial thread. But my reading there prompted me to ask a question or two about a picnic my church is having following this morning's worship service. We have no evening services. (see image below for the invitation) My church (PCA) has a low view of the Lord's Day (whole day) principle. Also, there is no reason other than convenience that this picnic was nor scheduled for a Saturday.

My questions and thoughts:

Q. Do you think there is a place for this kind of activity on the Lord's Day? I am sure if I went I would speak about little other than Christian ideas in the hopes of giving and receiving edification. But this would only be the case with maybe five or six other members. (best guess)

Should my wife and I go to a picnic as described below? I have always said no. But then again could it be a kind of "missionary" work to the other members? Or would it be a "let us do evil that good may come" thing? I have talked to the elders before about why they should not schedule "work days" on the Sabbath when it could just as well been planned for Saturday?

At this point and always in the past, I have refrained from participating in similar church events. Selfishly I never want to give up my day of reading and worship. But am I wrong? Am I missing an opportunity for the good that will be there? Am I being "holier than thou?" Jesus freely went about doing good and even accepted an invitation to a Pharisee's home for dinner on the Sabbath.

I know this is a last-minute request for help, but help I could use.

Here's an image of the invitation: Notice it mentions Food and Games, but that doesn't necessarily preclude some type of devotional by the pastor or elders. And if guests are invited, it could be a time of outreach to them. But this may be only wishful thinking.

Church Picnic.png






 
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Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
A church picnic can be a fitting activity for the Lord's Day.

The one at your church looked fine until I scrolled down and saw the section for "Games". Fun and games have their place, but it is not the Lord's Day.

From my experience, though you might hope to have the opportunity to be "missional", talking about serious things (and maybe even the Lord's Day), when the mood is one of frivolity you'll find your effort wasted.

In the past I organized this sort of event. I have since repented, and today I would not attend lest it give an impression that I approve of such things.

I can think of far better ways to spend the Lord's Day.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
"
From my experience, though you might hope to have the opportunity to be "missional", talking about serious things (and maybe even the Lord's Day), when the mood is one of frivolity you'll find your effort wasted.

This has been my experience also. I can't help but think of the "Book of Sports"*


I can think of far better ways to spend the Lord's Day.

So can I. But I have many times left my books and fellowship with God to help people in serious need. Example: A few months ago after church, (I was pretty sick too) I learned that my brother in law had not eaten in three days and had zero money to buy food. Of course, I helped him and was happy to do so. He was very appreciative, and we talked at some length of the things of God. But I still missed some precious private time with my first love.

Thanks for your thoughts and personal experience.

BTW - When threads like this turn out helpful; I sometimes send a link to my pastor and elders for their view. The most recent one I sent was Bill's @Herald post, "Setting the mood?" Some good back and forth followed. This way, the "complaint" is not coming from me. I hope that this thread is good enough to send to my elders. (maybe I will delete this paragraph first. :)


[*Book of Sports - Issued first by James I of England issued just for Lancashire in 1617, nationally in 1618, and reissued by Charles I in 1633. It listed the sports and recreations that were permitted on Sundays and other holy days. This Book was hated by the Puritans and perhaps even a contributing factor leading up English Civil War (1642-1651) Parlement ordered the Book burned in 1643.]
 
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Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
So can I. But I have many times left my books and fellowship with God to help people in serious need.
This is precisely what I mean by better things! Of course I'd often rather bury my nose in my books, but we mustn't forget charity, mercy and compassion.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Disregarding any complicating factors, in general I think that going compromises one's testimony and work to reform such sins, and unless one is maintaining that some way in going, I don't see how is not merely encouraging rather than discouraging this practice.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
This was a facebook memory post that popped up which seems appropriate.
Lord's Day 31 (2018). "A Sabbath of worldly pleasure and amusement has no place assigned to it under Christianity"—James Gilfillan. "Christ is born, is circumcised, dies, rises again for us every day in the preaching of the Gospel" (Danæu). "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
One needs to make the distinction between a love feast after the morning worship service and a picnic. These may seem pretty close, relationally. Things I can do on the other 6 days of the week and things I should refrain from on the Lord's day should be paramount in my decision making. My 2 cents worth.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
One needs to make the distinction between a love feast after the morning worship service and a picnic. These may seem pretty close, relationally. Things I can do on the other 6 days of the week and things I should refrain from on the Lord's day should be paramount in my decision making. My 2 cents worth.
I agree. I would think that a church picnic appropriate for the Sabbath is conceivable, for example, if the event was meant as an opportunity to eat, pray and study the Scriptures together, a sort of Sunday afternoon retreat.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
This was a facebook memory post that popped up which seems appropriate.
Lord's Day 31 (2018). "A Sabbath of worldly pleasure and amusement has no place assigned to it under Christianity"—James Gilfillan. "Christ is born, is circumcised, dies, rises again for us every day in the preaching of the Gospel" (Danæu). "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24.
I've missed these posts.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
I would think that a church picnic appropriate for the Sabbath is conceivable, for example, if the event was meant as an opportunity to eat, pray and study the Scriptures together, a sort of Sunday afternoon retreat.

Our church shares a meal once a month in a multipurpose room immediately following worship. I usually don't stay too long or eat anything, but stay on my feet looking for useful discourse. At least there are no distractions like at the planned picnic. Some good discussions, often ensue which are appropriate for the Lord's Day. But when that winds down my wife and I say our goodbyes and head home. We also attend a small bi-weekly group where we talk about almost anything for twenty minutes or so before we get down to business. So I am not anti-social.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have mixed feelings on this one. What is your church's purpose for having the picnic? Is it primarily a community outreach event? Is it primarily a time of fellowship for the congregation? A hopeful mix of the two? Will there be a time of prayer, scripture reading, and a short message?

Is your PCA church one that takes the continental view of the Sabbath? I've heard an increasing number lay claim to this justification for holdings events like this.

Considering many of our churches today see discipleship as something that primarily happens with small groups in living rooms and coffee shops instead of during public worship on the Lord's Day it is no surprise to see picnics and other social events start to compete for our time on Sundays.

I think if we're to restore a correct view of the Lord's Day we need to first start with public worship. We can't expect our churches to have a correct understanding of the Sabbath when it treats the worship service like sanctified entertainment meant for our own enjoyment.
 
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Kinghezy

Puritan Board Sophomore
On a related note, how would you encourage your local church to more follow the 4th commandment, when they have such practices? (The principle probably also applies to other practices.) My inclination is to intentionally make the elders aware of any concerns and if other members ask, to tell them then. What would the form be of your encouragement towards the 4th commandment (e.g. articles for them to read through themselves, a verbal discussion)?
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
I have mixed feelings on this one. What is your church's purpose for having the picnic? Is it primarily a community outreach event? Is it primarily a time of fellowship for the congregation? A hopeful mix of the two? Will there be a time of prayer, scripture reading, and a short message?

I had mixed feelings too. The church's purpose for the picnic is described in the image on the OP. Sure it is to be a time of fellowship for the congregation. But from my experience, it will be as advertised. I.g.,
  • The Food is detailed: Hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, salads, chips, soda, ice tea, watermelon, and dessert.
  • The Games are listed: Volleyball, horseshoes, croquet, cornhole and possibly badminton if anyone can bring rackets and some board games.
  • What to Bring is clear: The food you signed up to bring & utensils to serve it, lawn chairs or blankets if you would like to lounge around, water shoes(for the lake) and possibly bug spray!
  • Notable Omissions: A Bible, a time of prayer or a devotional message.
Is your PCA church one that takes the continental view of the Sabbath? I've heard an increasing number lay claim to this justification for holdings events like this.

The Continental View - I suspect only 5 or 6 members even know what that is. Besides, our standards are supposed to be the Westminster Confession of Faith (or rather the American revision) and Shorter and Larger Catechisms. So much for the Continental view.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
On a related note, how would you encourage your local church to more follow the 4th commandment, when they have such practices? (The principle probably also applies to other practices.) My inclination is to intentionally make the elders aware of any concerns and if other members ask, to tell them then. What would the form be of your encouragement towards the 4th commandment (e.g. articles for them to read through themselves, a verbal discussion)?

I have mentioned my concerns in the past. I hope to send a link to this thread if it stays helpful and kind with a sentence or two of introduction.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
The continental view today is a moniker for whatever unconfessional view one wishes to hide under it. My presbytery which is not Sabbatarian by a long shot (it was the author of the attempt to gut the Sabbatarianism from the PCA's standards a few years ago) had a study committee and concluded the term is no longer useful as having become such a wax nose by personal redefinition outside of any real historical context. I.e. I doubt the most liberal of views represented at Dordt would have approved of the games stipulated for this and the time, and no evening service, which Dordt required I think. Danny Hyde, a 3 forms man, concluded by comparing Dordt to William Ames that Dordt is essential moderate puritanism. I would probably agree with that but also say some at Dordt, but not those that requested and led to Dordt's passing some Sabbath regulations who were strict, had maybe a bit of leeway on recreations over any puritan Sabbatarian view, but not much.
The Continental View - I suspect only 5 or 6 members even know what that is. Besides, our standards are supposed to be the Westminster Confession of Faith (or rather the American revision) and Shorter and Larger Catechisms. So much for the Continental view.
 

Kinghezy

Puritan Board Sophomore
It seems like it is a mixed bag, and you could conceivably find someone to try to have edifying conversations. I probably would go for the reason that I could avoid the sports, and possibly converse with someone. I guess there is some dividing line that if there is too much of the event you do not agree with, you wouldn't want to partake. That dividing will vary between us all, based on our consciences. If the elders are aware of my concern, and those that I have talked with, then I do not think me being there is encouraging the sports aspect.


I have mentioned my concerns in the past. I hope to send a link to this thread if it stays helpful and kind with a sentence or two of introduction.

Have you found that beneficial? My question was not necessary to help your situation, since it seems like you have a plan. I know there similar areas in my church that I may have qualms about, and I imagine others may have similar boats.

If that is too off topic, I can start a new thread.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
Have you found that beneficial? My question was not necessary to help your situation, since it seems like you have a plan. I know there similar areas in my church that I may have qualms about, and I imagine others may have similar boats.

See my post #3 about @Herald 's post, "Setting the mood?" Here is the basic introduction I sent to my elders:

You know that I longer, or rarely bring any criticism of our church's practice. But I don't want to become so cynical that I give up all attempt when I think something is important. Therefore I hope you will take a few minutes to read the posts on a Puritanboard.com thread titled, Setting the Mood? Many of the Puritan Board participants are pastors, elders, and many godly and knowledgable members from Reformed churches. My contribution is post #13, so I am asking that you will read at least the first 13 entries. Post #14 by Rev. Stephen Charnock is quite good also.

This way eases the tension that might be caused if I alone (a nobody) brought the concern. So I mentioned that I had the concern without even spelling out what it was. The email subject was enough of a hint. Two weeks later, after worship, we had a face to face discussion that went pretty well. It was not just me and them but rather a multitude of counselors who mostly agreed with the point I hoped would be considered.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Our church shares a meal once a month in a multipurpose room immediately following worship. I usually don't stay too long or eat anything, but stay on my feet looking for useful discourse. At least there are no distractions like at the planned picnic. Some good discussions, often ensue which are appropriate for the Lord's Day. But when that winds down my wife and I say our goodbyes and head home. We also attend a small bi-weekly group where we talk about almost anything for twenty minutes or so before we get down to business. So I am not anti-social.


Ed,

I would not attend the picnic because of all the games and in case the Park employs staff on the Lord's Day. However, I wanted to post regarding your comment here. I would encourage you, me being a younger man, to stay for the regular fellowship meals (minus the Park Picnic) and break bread with your fellow members. You can be a help to steer conversations to the things of the Lord if you so wish. There are likely many young men at the regular fellowship meals that could benefit from your zeal and wisdom in private devotion. Just my :2cents: and as one who would avoid the picnic event on the Lord's Day. There is something special with sharing a meal (other than the Lord's Supper) with members and especially when older mature members spend intentional time with young families (which is permissible on the Lord's Day). I would encourage you to be patient with those who speak about work, sports, and hunting if that is what is offensive to you. You can use this time to get to know fellow members and ask them what you can be praying for them about. For example, we just had a new couple over for lunch. We spoke about spiritual things, but also had general conversation about "what do you do for a living?" type conversation. Certainly I do not think you would recommend me ask them to leave or for my wife and I to leave once they asked a question about something worldly?

I hope this at least helps you to rethink leaving the fellowship meals too early. You have written many things on PB to bless me...I for one would want you to stick around at the church fellowship meal table and talk patiently with me even if I asked you about your employments. Your spiritual conversation and maturity is needed by many in your local church, I promise! The times when spiritual wisdom in the context of conversations is needed the most is when conversations turn to open questions and or erroneous statements:detective:

P.S. If the park is staffed, then it really should be a no-brainer not to attend. I would likely still avoid the event with so much emphasis on games. After all what do the standards mean by recreations (rhetorical)? It would be far better for them to drop the games and if not add a devotional/prayer time, then go out and do acts of mercy.
 
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JTB.SDG

Puritan Board Junior
Don't see any problems with it. Not a bad way to encourage and be encouraged by God's people over a meal, especially with the added bonus of parents of young kids in that context being more freed up to talk/fellowship.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
What is the difference between this event and for example, a lecture or special service put on that as a part of it teaches false doctrine?
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
What is the difference between this event and for example, a lecture or special service put on that as a part of it teaches false doctrine?
From my perspective one would be permissible and morally good on a normal day outside the Lord's Day and the other is ALWAYS morally evil and wicked, if indeed a heresy is being taught.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
It's not the time I was looking for an equivalency, but one is the church publicly declaring false doctrine in a service, and the other is the church publicly declaring false doctrine by what they are doing.
From my perspective one would be permissible and morally good on a normal day outside the Lord's Day and the other is ALWAYS morally evil and wicked, if indeed a heresy is being taught.
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
It's not the time I was looking for an equivalency, but one is the church publicly declaring false doctrine in a service, and the other is the church publicly declaring false doctrine by what they are doing.
I followed you, but my point being that I am not sure the 2 events are as 1:1 as you set up. I say this as one who would avoid the picnic in the OP.
 
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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
I hope this at least helps you to rethink leaving the fellowship meals too early.

Hi Grant,

Thanks for the kind and encouraging words. I should have been more clear when I said I usually leave early. Mary and I never plan on staying very long for other reasons also. We have a partially disabled adult son who needs attention, and my wife gets paid by the state as his caregiver and has to be there at certain times. When for whatever reason, Mary can't make it to church, I come early and stay longer than usual. I see now that I misrepresented our reasons for leaving early. On those days, I get to ride my motorcycle as an added benefit.:)
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
Hi Grant,

Thanks for the kind and encouraging words. I should have been more clear when I said I usually leave early. Mary and I never plan on staying very long for other reasons also. We have a partially disabled adult son who needs attention, and my wife gets paid by the state as his caregiver and has to be there at certain times. When for whatever reason, Mary can't make it to church, I come early and stay longer than usual. I see now that I misrepresented our reasons for leaving early. On those days, I get to ride my motorcycle as an added benefit.
Ed,

Thanks for clarifying. That’s very understandable reasoning. I just wanted to make sure you weren’t skipping out for other reasons out of brotherly concern and knowing the Lord has blessed you with much wisdom to share with younger brothers over a nice casserole:detective:
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
My advice in such situations is not to go to such picnics for fear that they will be abused by those with looser views of the fourth commandment. While I would nearly always attend a church lunch - either in the building or in someone's house - I do not think I would attend a picnic. Not because it is inherently wrong to do so, but they are often organised with the intent of playing games or some other Sabbath profanation in mind.
 
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