By Barry Rager
Endings are important. If you disagree with this, simply read a book or watch a movie with a poor conclusion. It is no different in our Sunday Gathering. Yes, we want to thank people for coming and invite them back. Yes, we want to inform people about ways they can take their next step into our family. But we want to do more, and a benediction gives us that opportunity.
A benediction is essentially a blessing. The reason we close each week with a benediction is because we want to speak a blessing over everyone who attended. Here are four reasons why we do a benediction at New Circle Church:
1. We simply desire God to bless them.
As the family of Christ, we want the best for one another. We know that God is the provider of all things. Thus we ask our Father to bless his children. We see a benediction like this in Numbers 6:24-26, “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
2. We want people to see God as the source of hope.
The blessing of the benediction may come from asking God to provide for us what we see we need in our lives. An example of this would be the benediction Paul wrote to the Romans, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:13) I used this benediction from Paul to speak a blessing over the folks of New Circle this summer when I preached on peace.
3. We want people to see the Sunday Gathering in connection with their lives.
Some people struggle with the integration of their faith in Christ throughout all of their lives. The benediction blesses people by allowing them to go out the door by giving them a parting thought to integrate their faith and life. Jude wrote a benediction to his readers that in Jude 24-25 to show them of their ever present need for God and his integration into their lives. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
4. We want people to know they are sent.
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he left his people with a blessing and a reminder. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Jesus reminded them that they were to live their lives with a purpose of seeing more people coming to know Him. And hand-in-hand with this commission is the two-fold blessing that he would send his Spirit to help them and that he would be with them until the end.
The benediction comes with power, sending us with power from being believers who are gathered to believers who are scattered. Yet even when we are scattered, the benediction reminds us that our lives continue to be lived in worship of Jesus.