In the New Testament we see the church meet for a different purpose: edification. I Corinthians 14:26 says, "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." The point of the gathering was the building up of the members. No confusion there.
However, there is plenty of confusion today. How did we get into this mess? In order to find out we must look back at church history (in fact, we'll find many of the answers to these fifteen church-related questions by searching through church history).
Not long after the first century a clergy system began to form. Specialists emerged who did the bulk of the stuff as the church gathered. This gradually morphed into the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church. The priests led the Mass, which became the primary gathering of the people of God.
Enter the Reformers. Men like Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc. rejected the Mass for the heresy that it was (and still is). They recognized that when churches came together something other than "another sacrifice of Christ" must occur. The Reformers did a good thing by jettisoning the Mass. However, they failed to follow the biblical model when they replaced it. The Reformation saw the rise of preaching as the center point of body meetings.
Fast forward to today. The Catholic Church still performs its Mass. Protestant churches focus their gatherings on music (now known to many as "worship") and preaching. Neither group gathers specifically for edification. Over the years the Protestant versions have become known as "worship services." This is fascinating because the worship is poorly defined and no actual service takes place. Regardless, because the gatherings are known as worship services, many of the people think that they gather for worship.
The biggest problem with this situation is that it leaves the church largely unedified and spiritually immature. Gatherings are supposed to build up the body. However, in worship service ceremonies very little communication occurs or is encouraged among the people present. Edification happens mainly through the carrying out of the one anothers; this cannot happen during a ceremony. Thus, the body does not grow spiritually.
Many, many Christians think they gather for worship because they know little else. It's what they have always done. It does not stem from scriptural teachings, but rather church history. The church suffers because of it.
We do well to challenge this way of thinking.
Let's tell and show our brothers and sisters in Christ that edification occurs best in simple gatherings.