The Importance of Church Meetings
Heb 10:25. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near. NLT
The Book of Hebrews was written to encourage first century believers in their faith in Jesus Christ. Times were tough and many of them were being persecuted for their faith. The author writes to them to inspire them to persevere and to not fall away from their initial commitment. He shows these believers how they can have a close and intimate relationship with God because of what Jesus has done. We all have direct access to God through prayer and worship every moment of every day. There is also something special that God chooses to do when we gather with other Christ-followers to meet with God.Church meetings are important!
That’s why we encourage every person who is a part of CityLife Church to attend at least one weekend Celebration meeting AND one Life Group meeting (Life Groups). To grow and be mature as a Christian you need BOTH your personal relationship with God AND your relationship with other Christ-followers meeting in community. The writer of Hebrews urges first century listeners not to neglect church gatherings. This message is relevant to us today too.Dynamic Gatherings in Bible Times
The word ‘dynamic’ means alive, energetic, vibrant, powerful, full of life, explosive and forceful. The English word ‘dynamic’ comes from the Greek word ‘dunamis’ which refers to the power of the Holy Spirit. We want to see dynamic Spirit-powered church gatherings. In contrast we have the word ‘static’ , which means inactive, stagnant, dead, lethargic, apathetic, motionless, flat and we could add, boring. There are many examples of dynamic gatherings of God’s people in the Bible.
In the Old Testament we have records of few gatherings of God’s people at the Tabernacle of Moses (Ex.40:34-38), during the Feasts of Israel (Ex.23:14), at the Tabernacle of David (2 Sam.6:12-15. Ps.27:4), at the Temple of Solomon (2Chron.5:11-14; 7:1-10) and at the rebuilt temple (Ezra 3:10-13; 6:16-18. Neh.8:1-12). These were some pretty amazing meetings. In the New Testament Jesus regularly gathered people together in various meetings. He spoke to multitudes of people at once, teaching them practical principles about living life in God’s kingdom. He also took time to pray for people and to meet their needs. Jesus also frequently gathered his twelve disciples together (his Life Group, if you will). He used these times for fellowship, sharing, teaching and encouragement. Every meeting Jesus was at was amazing. Incredible things happened – people learnt things, God’s power moved and people’s lives were changed. However, there was one time when some meetings Jesus ran didn’t go that well (Mt.13:53-58). Another time when Jesus entered Jerusalem a large crowd worshipped him with great excitement – singing and shouting in loud voices (Lk.19:35-40. Mt.21:7-9). We also have description of a variety of meetings that took place once the church was birthed (see Acts 2:1-4, 42-47; 4:23-31; 20:6-12).
From these few meetings we’ve reviewed, we can see that something special can happen when we gather together with God’s people. These may be times for prayer, for singing, for fellowship, for teaching, for ministry or whatever. But something good is always going to happen when we gather in Christ’s name – wherever and whenever that may be and no matter how many are there (Mt.18:19-20).What Factors Contribute to the Dynamic of a Church Meeting?
It’s important that we make church gatherings a priority in our lives. However, when we do come together, what are some of the factors that determine what happens in a specific meeting and what can we do to release God to do all he wants to do? How can we all experience more ‘dynamic’ church gatherings? Surely that’s what God wants! But is it all up to Him or are there some things that we contribute to what happens in a church meeting? Let’s discuss four factors that have an impact on church meetings – large or small.
- Our Attitude. Our attitude (how and what we think) has a big impact on what we give to a particular meeting and what we receive out of it. Our attitude also has an impact on those around about us in the meeting. What kind of attitude is appropriate when we gather with God’s people to meet with God?
Respect - Ultimately we are coming to meet with God NOT just to see our friends, hear a speaker or enjoy some good singing. In fact, because of the strong consumerism of our society it’s easy to approach church for what we get out of it rather than what God gets out of it. Every church meeting is ultimately a meeting with God not just with each other. We have the privilege of meeting with the God of the universe. We should approach each meeting with honour and respect.
Joy - We should be excited and joyful about going to a church meeting. We shouldn’t go out of a sense of obligation or duty. We go because we want to go (Ps.122:1). God is not a dull person. Sometimes we can picture God as an extremely old person, who’s grumpy and worn out, who hates fun and is waiting for everything to be over. God is exuberant (Zeph.3:17). He has emotion and feeling. He created us in his image and likeness.
- Our Expectation. Come with a spirit of positive and hopeful expectation. Believe that something good will happen in the meeting you’re about to attend. Jesus often said, “According to your faith be it unto you.” In other words, what ever you’re expecting, that’s what will most likely happen for you. God is a God of hope who has good things in store for us (Jer.29:11). We have so many promises from God that should create huge expectation within us (Ps.5:3. Jas.4:8).
- Our Participation. Come ready to contribute, to give something and to participate in what is happening. Be ‘present’. Focus, concentrate and participate. Be attentive and be fully engaged! To be fully engaged means to focus on your energy (contribution) not just your time (turning up). God isn’t just looking for bodies in pews. He’s looking for warm hearts reaching out to Him (see Mt.15:8-9)! God is not looking for religious ritual. He is looking for hearts that are genuinely reaching out in love to Him and other people (Mk.12:30-31. Col.3:23-24).
What we do in our church gatherings is up to God, as it is His meeting after all. We need to follow his agenda. He wants us to pray (Mt.21:13. 1 Tim.2:1-4), praise (Ps.95:1-2; 100. Eph.5:19-20), sing (Ps.33:3), worship (Ps.95:6), give (Prov.3:5-6. 1 Cor.9:14. 2 Cor.9:6-9), hear the teaching of God’s Word (Acts 2:42. 2 Tim.3:16-17; 4:2-4. 1 Thess.2:13. Acts 17:11), love others (1 Pet.4:8-9) and serve (1 Pet.4:10) when we gather together. There is an important principle in life – you tend to get out of something what you put into it.
- Our Responsiveness. Respond to what God is saying and doing. Responsiveness is saying, “Yes, Lord (Lk.1:38)!” The very word ‘Amen’ means ‘so be it’ or ‘let it be’ or ‘this is true’ (Rev.5:13-14)! Jesus criticised his generation for being unresponsive and cynical (see Mt.11:16-20). This generation missed their hour of visitation and the blessing God intended for them.
We have an individual responsibility to come with the right attitude, the right expectation, the right participation and the right responsiveness. There is something we could call the ‘corporate anointing’ and it is created through faith, which involves the four things we’ve talked about tonight – attitude, expectation, participation and responsiveness. Two people can come to the same meeting and receive totally different things – totally blessed or nothing at all. Often this is based on their own approach to the meeting (e.g. Pharisee and sinner). When God’s people gather together in unity (“one accord”), faith and expectancy anything can happen! Church gatherings should be the most exciting place on the planet! We just need a shift in … our attitude, our expectation, our participation and our responsiveness. Come on, let’s get a little enthusiasm! A.W. Tozer once said, “God dwells in a state of perpetual enthusiasm!”Sample Discussion Questions
- Which gathering described in the Bible would you have most liked to be at?
- What do you think Jesus’ meetings in the gospels would have been like to attend?
- Describe the most impacting church meeting you’ve ever been to. What happened?
- What lessons can we learn from sports ‘fans’ that are applicable to those us who desire to love Jesus with all of our hearts? How can we be real ‘Jesus fans’?
- How does punctuality express our attitude towards church gatherings?
- In your opinion, how big an impact does the congregation have on what happens in a meeting compared to those who are leading the meeting?
- What are some ways we can respond better to the preaching of the Word so that we receive greater fruit in our lives from each message?
- What are some ways that your Life Group meeting could be improved?