As we talk about church life, much of the focus often falls on what we refer to as "the gathering." I use this type of language as much as anybody else does. The problem I've come to see with this is that "the gathering" almost takes on a life of its own. It begins to draw much of our focus. We place much energy into it. It is where church life occurs.
There may be a better way. It can begin with simply how we think about getting together with Christian brothers and sisters. Instead of "the gathering," we may be much better off just thinking and speaking in terms of "gathering." When just gather, the focus is less upon what we do than upon who is there. We can shift our attention away from the types of events and activities (whatever they may be) toward the needs of the people present. The move is from action-driven to relationship-driven.
I'm not trying to split hairs. Rather, there is a significant issue at stake. That issue has to do with why we even get together with the body in the first place. When we think in terms of "the gathering," we can fall into a trap of thinking that certain activities are the reason we get together. However, when we simply gather, we can orient ourselves to what truly matters: the who we gather for. We ultimately gather for Christ. We live this out by gathering for the edification of both ourselves and others.
The language we use not only shows how we think but also shapes our thinking. I'm trying to move away from talking about "the gathering" toward just "gathering." My hope is that this moves me more toward thinking of others instead of activities.