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  • Writer's pictureDwight Smith

Why Should the Church Gather?

group of people sitting at table having coffee

We are one of the first generations of western peoples to have been significantly separated from each other through the processes of industrialization, urbanization and, now, the technology revolution.

While obviously, much good has come from both, the social fabric found in village, neighborhood, clan, etc has been ripped apart. People who live within “feet” of each other, know each other in relatively superficial ways. The culture has been imaged upon us and the church has suffered this same “separation.”

The smaller the church, the more relationships can be meaningful and deeper, yet imperfect. The larger the church, the more deep and meaningful relationships break down into “functional” and “transactional.”

In order to “rebuild” relationships that have greater spiritual and meaningful potential, the negative impacts of the cultural milieu in which we live 24 hours a day, seven days a week, have to be invaded with alternative strategies.

The difficulty in this is that it is upside down to experience, and now, in many cases, upside down to entrenched expectations in our people. Family, a few “golf” type buddies, etc have become a substitute for what the “modern” world has destroyed.

Still, every church that wants to be responsible with their mandate to grow a relationship to God, and sanctification, in its people, has to try. To not give the “blood, sweat and tears” necessary to attempt to see this come to be, is extremely dangerous.

First, it is dangerous because we will have given up our leadership mandate received from Jesus Christ, the head of the body. Second, because we will superintend the demise of the body of Christ in America.

We can no longer tolerate the elevated percentages of nominal people in the buildings called churches, and think that any biblical form of Christianity will survive!

As one friend noted about one of my previous posts, we are suffering from a “covid” of unbelief. I freely admit that the swirling chaos of information, prancing around as truth, too often robs many of the confidence that God can give us.

Our children are imposed upon with these alternative “truths” from the beginning of their public education. Unless they happen to have a convinced Christian for a teacher, the seeding of largely unproven ideas about origins, human relationships, identity, personal value, monetary acquisition, begin a slow seduction in their lives.

By the time they reach high school the biblically antagonistic ideas have seated themselves in their minds as “maybe,” “probably,” more true than Biblical truth.

It matters not that these secular ideas are inherently antagonistic to each other, or that thousands of years of very smart people can be shown to have rejected them and stayed tethered to Biblical truth.

And so, a virus of unbelief has set itself up inside of the church. I am not saying that many have given up confessing the most important beliefs of Biblical truth. But when asked whether they can explain what they confess, or actually believe what they confess, or, if it makes any difference in their lives, we discover the virus of unbelief. “Even many Christians live their lives as practical atheists, making decisions and living their lives just as if no God exists.( ICR devotional, August 26. John Morris Our Rock: The Creator)

If we could develop a healthier theology and practice of worship, the gathering would help us all stay within the boundaries of orthodoxy, while free to find accountably and “each other” in lots of smaller venues.

This is the key to me: Identifying and understanding the most important elements of what it means to be followers of Jesus, and therefore, members of the Church. The outcomes given to us by our Lord are clear. He has given us restoration to the relationship with God our Father, and He demonstrates with His life, what it means to live representing the Father, where we can have both a transformed life and witness.

How do we get at these non-negotiable ends? The gathering can be important in this regard. But not as a substitute for our relationship with God, nor as the primary arena of our witness. The power of the life of Jesus in us is what goes on in our lives 24 hours a day 7 days a week, until He calls us “home.”

If we gather to worship, or fellowship or be instructed in the Word, we do so as the extension of the activities of our daily lives. Of​ ​course, there will be ups and downs in this process. But, to continually bring nothing into the gathering from our daily lives, or, live off of the worship, fellowship or instruction created in a gathering, is both dangerous to true salvation and unacceptable.

The church is not a Rubik’s cube and the process is, I think, much simpler, relational and potentially “viral,” than we have made it to be in the 21st century.

As I stated in a prior post, the apparent simplicity of Acts 2:42 ff is directionally challenging. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”


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