We have all been there before. It is Sunday morning. It’s been a long week, and you are tired. Moreover, your to-do list for the coming week looms. You had every intention of going to church, but now you are reconsidering. If anything, you can catch it online and spend some extra time with the kids.
Why does the church gather anyway?
This is a question we have all asked ourselves at some point, particularly after the impact of COVID and the rise of online services. It is a question worth considering again.
I’d like to offer you five reasons why the church gathers.
The definition of the church assumes we gather. The Greek word for church (ekklēsia) literally means “the called-out ones.” It is often used in reference to “the gathered assembly” of those called out by God.
The metaphors of the church imply we gather. The Bible uses various metaphors such as family (Mark 3:31-35), body (1 Corinthians 12:12-31), and flock (Luke 12:32) to describe the church. When you place your trust in Jesus Christ, you are not only choosing to follow Him, you are also choosing to join His family, participate in the body, and come under the protection of the Good Shepherd. The Bible does not understand or conceive of a genuine Christ follower separated from other believers. Together, we are able to care for each member in the family, use our God-given gifts to serve body, and protect the flock.
The commands of the church demand we gather. Hebrews 10:24-25 states, “And let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” We gather as a church not only to be encouraged, but to encourage and strengthen the faith of others. Maybe the Lord wants to use you this Sunday to greet someone who is lonely, to have a meaningful conversation with a member who is struggling, or to pray for someone in need.
The ordinances of the church require we gather. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are two of the marks of a healthy church. Baptism is the first step of obedience we take to publicly profess our faith in Jesus Christ and entrance into the family of God. In turn, the gathered assembly affirms and prays for the baptized person. Also, the Lord’s Supper offers us a time for the church to look back in remembrance of Christ’s resurrection, look inside to examine one’s heart, and look forward to the Day of Christ’s return. These ordinances serve as tangible reminders of spiritual truths within the public gathering of believers.
The witness of the church necessitates we gather. Collectively, the church gathers for worship, instruction, fellowship, and evangelism. 1 Peter 2:9 states: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Sadly, it is common for Christians to readily dismiss our need to gather. Yet, each time we do so, we are arguing against what the Scriptures so clearly teach. Moreover, we are arguing against one of the Lord’s means of grace in our lives and forsaking one of His greatest blessings.
One writer rightly states: “Despite all of her weakness, there is no more powerful an organization of hope in the world than a body of believers loving one another, helping and forgiving one another, praying for the work of Christ in their midst, supporting each other in joy and sorrow, equipping disciples, showing mercy to outsiders, and praising the God who enables it all. The cumulative effect of multiple churches so living is the world’s greatest power for good…” (Bryan Chappell’s Reformed Expository Commentary on Ephesians)
If you are well and able, I encourage you to join us this Sunday not to “check a box” but to experience the blessing of being together. Please help me welcome Timothy “TA” Ateek as he continues our Loaded Questions series.
See you Sunday, Blake