The Gathering of the Church
Unfortunately, an audio recording is not available for this sermon. For your own study, here is an outline of the message.
- People have their own response to the idea of church gathering. What matters most, however, is what the Bible says.
- There is no passage explicitly commanding believers to meet at a specific time or frequency, but that does not mean the gathering of the church is inconsequential.
- The corporate gathering of the church is a time and a place in which all the members of a local church can come together.
- A local church is a group of Christians that meet regularly for the teaching of the Word and the practice of the ordinances, and whose aim is to edify one another and evangelize the lost with the truth of Jesus Christ.
Principle #1: The corporate gathering of the church is essential to its nature.
- The Greek word for church is ekklesía, which means assembly or congregation. It refers to a group that has been called together. This is supported by its use in the Septuagint and its use in Greco-Roman culture. How can a local church be an assembly if it never assembles?
- The assembly of a local church is a picture of the heavenly assembly, gathered to worship God and the Lamb. See Revelation 7:9-12 and Hebrews 12:22-23.
- The New Testament speaks of the church as a body, the bride of Christ, branches on a vine, a building made up of spiritual stones, a family, and a flock. These metaphors speak of parts that are connected in a meaningful way.
- There is no explicit, biblical mandate for the recurrence of the corporate meeting, but the pattern we see in the Bible and in church history is that local churches meet on Sundays. See Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2, and Revelation 1:10.
Principle #2: The corporate gathering of the church is a time for equipping.
- The reading and teaching of the Word is a vital part of our meeting because that is God's instrument for our maturity. See, for example, 1 Timothy 4:6, 13-16.
- The equipping that takes place in the gathering, however, is not only from the one teaching. We all play a part in equipping others. For example, singing is a time for worship and mutual encouragement. Colossians 3:16 connects singing to teaching and admonishing, and makes it the responsiblity of all the members.
- Be careful not to equate the corporate gathering with the "Sunday service," because there are opportunities to encourage others before the service and after the service.
- FBBC's membership covenant says: I will seek to faithfully assemble with the local body of believers. I will biblically test instruction from the Scriptures, stimulate others to love and good deeds, and exercise my spiritual gifts in faithful service.
- The corporate gathering is a time to share burdens, pray for one another, and praise God together.
- Hebrews 10:25 speaks of the importance of attending the gathering, but it also indicates our role is to encourage others. That encouragement is part of the gathering.
Principle #3: The corporate gathering of the church is to be valued.
- This was emphasized in Hebrews 10:25 but also in the example of the early church. See Acts 1:14; 2:1, 42-47.
- We can also see the value in the corporate gathering in 1 Corinthians 11. Paul gave special attention to the problems in their gathering, while choosing to wait to address other problems (see verses 17-18, 33-34).
- Ask yourself: How much do I value meeting with the church? Even if it doesn't look how I'd like it to look, do I cherish the meeting?
Principle #4: The corporate gathering of the church is not the only time for fellowship.
- The early church was meeting every day (see Acts 5:42).
- Hebrews 3:13 calls us to encourage one another every day.
- There is more to a church than its corporate gathering. The corporate gathering is a foundational component, but it's not the only expression of unity and love.
- Various church ministries can help foster connection to others, but your connection to others in the church shouldn't only be seen on Sundays.
- Ask yourself: How connected am I to others in the church? What can I do to reach out to others?
- The perfect example of connecting to others is Jesus Christ. God came to dwell among His people. Paul followed that example by sharing not only the gospel but his own life (1 Thess 2:8).