In a previous post ‘ A New Testament Church in Form and Function’, I discussed some of the structural issues that I see in the institutionalize church of today. Here I will layout how I see meetings operating in the New Testament.
First of all, the church met in peoples homes. What does this mean? Well, the number of people that gathered had to be small which would allow for a more intimate fellowship. Sure they continued to meet in the synagogue and at the Temple, but this was not the fellowship of believers, this was the continuation of their Jewishness. It was also a time of out reach, debating and discussion with fellow Jews.
The fact that we ‘have church’ with other believers in meetings with 100’s and even 1000’s means the instructions we can see for our assembling together cannot occur in these meetings. Does this mean we should stop attending these meetings? Not necessarily. We just need to understand that these meetings are not where we are going to be assembling for fellowship. Only a superficial fellowship can occur here. What we are doing here is participating in a culture – a christian culture. Not wrong but also not a requirement for a healthy walk in the Way.
[a side note:
“not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some” (Hebrews 10:23-25) is not in reference to not attending ‘church’ but is talking about abandoning the faith, the assembly of Christ.
However, even if it does refer to a current meeting or gathering together, it does not need to be understood in the context of institutionalize meetings, but rather, how about being understood in the context of an organic, living and changing organism; the body.]
Apart from the understanding of meeting regularly in the homes of believers, what can we see about these meetings? I believe that 1 Corinthians 11,12,13 and 14 is talking about just such meetings. If this is so, then the believers meetings – those that we should be attending -would look vastly different than our domesticiized Sunday services.
- When they came together it was for the Lord’s Supper – the love feast.”Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk.” (11:20,21)Every time they got together it was with a meal – the Lord’s Supper. Sure Paul says that because of the division that was happening during this supper it was not counted as the Lord’s Supper, but it should be
- The spiritual gifts are for every one as the Spirit sees fit. (12:1-31)
- The context of the gifts, the Lord’s Supper -all of life- is Love (13:1-13)
- These gifts are for the Body, and for ever meeting.”What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation Let all things be done for edification.” (14:26-33)The meetings of the believers should be open and participatory. These meetings were not man centered like today’s
- We have a speaker who dictates to the body what God wants to teach [NOT each one has a teaching]
- We filter prophesy so that God can only say what the speaker/ rulers of the meeting see fit [NOT each one has a revelation]
- We have a designated team that dictates what songs are sung[NOT each one has a psalm]
If my interpretation is right, the way we do our meetings today is un-biblical and spirit resistant.