Does your church meet on Sunday? If it does, do you know why you do what you do? Does the person you sit next to know?
I’ve been going to church meetings and services since I was born. For the last 39 years the overwhelming majority of my Sundays have featured a church service.
As a child this was a given, as a teenager it was resented, as a student it was often a source of guilt, as a church leader they were both the high point and the most exhausting point of my week and when I forgot the gospel it would have an undue influence on how I saw God, church, myself and what I was doing with my life.
Church and the meeting are often blurred together; I’ve often said, that many Christians today know that the church is not the building but not so many know that the church is also not the meeting.
Moving abroad to plant a church in a new context gave me a fresh opportunity to think about church meetings – what they were for and what you did in them.
Earlier this year Tim Chester of The Crowded House church in Sheffield wrote a series of posts that worked through their understanding of meetings and what they hoped they were for.
- The aim of our gatherings
- The shape of our gatherings
- Our gatherings: contemporary and traditional
- Our gatherings: familiar and responsive
- Our gatherings: participatory and accessible
I found the process really interesting to see and it was a helpful exercise to think through even though the result would look different.
Our calling as a church is to make disciples who make disciples so at Grace Church we have taken Acts 2:42-46 as the basis for our answer spread over two different points in the week. We study the Bible together, eat together (and break bread together), pray and worship together.
So we study the Bible to learn about who we follow and what that following looks like, it sets us in the story of what God has done and is doing.
We break bread because this is our regular enactment and participation in the gospel – bread and wine, body and blood, we are partakers in the death & resurrection of Christ until He comes again.
We worship God because of who He is, what He has done for us in Christ and as we draw near to Him, He draws near to us. We are a Spirit-filled community.
We pray to ask God to help us in our everyday lives to honour Christ, serve Him, follow Him and witness to the world of His grace to us.
We fellowship together because God has not called us to follow Him alone but set us in a family, that together we may strengthen, encourage and serve one another in our calling as disciples and show to the world the same love that God has shown us. This is why missional communities are so important to us because we are about creating families on a mission together.
All this currently takes place in the (mostly) relaxed setting of our home but change is coming. As we multiply missional communities we will probably gather them together and the shape and balance of what happens in our gatherings and what happens in a missional community will shift and we will again think through the aim and shape of our gathering.
If you’re a church leader how have you answered the question of what your meetings are for? If you’re a church member would you be able to explain why you do what you do and would it be similar to your leaders’ answer?