What Christians do when they get together is important to God!

The Modern Day "Sunday Service" Is Far From Fulfilling The Scriptural Exhortation To "Not Forsake Our Own Assembling Together."

Christian Meetings Were Meant to Engage Every Believer in Action.

The Lord’s Supper Was Never Meant To Be A "Polite Ceremony With An Itty Bitty Breadcrumb And A Thimbleful Of Welch’s Grape Juice.."

While Home Fellowship Groups Are A Great Step Towards The New Testament Ideal Of Meetings, They Are Not Necessarily The Answer.

Unless we come together on some regular basis, we cannot experience the fullness that God intended for us. It is coming together to meet that gives us opportunity to encourage, love, edify, and exhort. Of course as we maintain contact and communion with each other during other parts of our week, we can also give and receive gifts from each other as the Father would see fit.

The purpose of such gatherings is to provide an opportunity to serve someone else. And, like frosting on the cake, we get to receive something for ourselves! Frank Viola puts it this way,

In essence, going to church in the first century meant giving more than receiving. You did not attend the meeting of the New Testament church to receive from a class of religious specialists called ‘the clergy.’ Instead, you met to serve your brethren through your individual gifts so that the whole Body could be edified (Romans 12:1-8). In God’s thought, it is the unified-diversity of Spirit-endowed gifts that is essential to the building up of the local assembly.”[1] 

The meeting is therefore, where we get to tangibly express the natural and supernatural gifts that our Lord endows us with in order to bless each other. If one reads through the Epistles, it is clear that the various writers assumed regular gatherings were the norm. Paul especially knew the life we are to live in Christ was largely expressed through our serving one another in day to day living and, principally, during our meetings. Gatherings are necessary in order to build one another up (1 Corinthians 14:26), minister to the Lord in fasting and prayer (Acts 13:1-3), bear burdens (Galatians 6:2), allow mutual accountability of sin (James 5:16), read the Scriptures publicly (1 Timothy 4:13), speak prophetic words to one another (1 Corinthians 14:1-3), join in one another’s’ praise (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), and more! 

Unfortunately, gatherings, for the majority of Christians, have taken on an entirely different form from what they were intended to be. Going to nearly any institutional church will leave one with the impression that church is more like a beauty pageant, museum, or public lecture with a small concert.

In attending such meetings, most people feel like they have to “dress up” not only their outer man, but also their inner man. While handsome clothes hide our “wrinkling bag of bones,” our plastic smiles and “joyful” facades often mask the real feelings and emotions down inside. How many of us have had the experience of wrestling, and sometimes fighting, with our families, trying to get them up, ready, and off to church? Then, in the church parking lot, the argument magically stops! I often wonder what children think, who, after witnessing a flurry of angry words, watch how their parents instantly switch to “Hello brother Rob, praise the Lord for a beautiful Sunday.” 

Usually the entire performance of a meeting in an institutional church revolves around a couple prominent individuals, a monarchial bishop (senior pastor) and a music leader. Rather than revolving around the list (even partial as it is) of things that the NT speaks of as components of a normal meeting, gatherings are typically impersonal public performances. However, some groups have attempted to incorporate “body life” principles in their meetings. While being a noble attempt, often this is likened to putting Band-Aids on cancer. As we will see together, a believer’s meeting should have as its main characteristic, edifying one another. Each person is to have an opportunity to exercise their gifts toward one another. 

In the NT, one gets the impression that a meeting of brethren ought to be more like a football team huddle, hospital, party, or military troop rally. These similes paint a picture that is a far cry different from what most Christians’ church life is like.

The assertions which follow will serve to be points of study for you. For each point, I will expect that you will do a few things. First, you will examine the Scripture references that I provide. Second, you will dig deeper to find other references. Third, you will take a close, hard look at your own experience, and measure it up with what you have learned. Finally, you will inquire of the Lord and expect that the Holy Spirit will instruct you.

Footnotes:

[1] Viola, Frank A. Rethinking the Wineskin, (Brandon, Florida: Present Testimony Ministry, 1997), Pg. 27.

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