"What Do We Do? How Do We Do It? Why Do We Do It?"
These are three very important questions to ask about what happens when the church of Jesus Christ gets together. They are questions that we should be continually asking ourselves as we look at our church gatherings.
Unfortunately, in my experience it is the first of the above three questions that seems to garner the vast majority of the attention these days. The concern seems to almost always be the content of what is happening: "Is there preaching? What kind? Is there singing? What kind? Are there testimonials? How long do they take? Is the bible read aloud? Are there pews or chairs? Is there a Sunday evening service? What do the kids do?" etc., etc., etc.
Content is certainly important. If the gospel of Jesus Christ is not the centerpiece of the gathering, then something is very wrong.
A concern of mine is that while we frequently ask the first of the above three questions, we do not often ask the other two. The irony in this is that the bible is clearer in its answer to the second two questions than it is to the first.
In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul answers the question, "How do we do it?"
At the conclusion of I Corinthians chapter 14, which deals specifically with the church gathering, Paul writes in 14:40, "Let all things be done decently and in order." So the answer to how we are to gather is that we are to gather in a decent and orderly manner.
In this same chapter, Paul also answers the third of the above questions, "Why do we do it?"
Why do we gather together? This is a critical question, but one that rarely gets asked. Paul tells us the answer in two different verses:
I Corinthians 14:12, "Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel."
I Corinthians 14:26, "How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification."
Paul's clear answer to why we gather is that we do so for the edification (building up) of the body of Christ. We gather in order to encourage the church to grow in maturity in Jesus Christ.
As we think about the church gathering, we should ask hard questions. It is important that we ask all the questions that need asking. There is much more to the gathering of the body than simply "what we do."