Why Must We *Go* to Church

With podcasts and live streaming, have you ever wondered why we must gather together at church every Sunday? Isn’t that a little old school? I mean, why not just stay in your jammies, sip coffee, stream one of the best worship bands on the planet via Spotify, download a sermon from a world-renowned teacher, and call it a day?

a-gathering

The answer comes, in part, from the definition of the word “church” (Greek, ekklesia). Church is not a building. Church is a people. But in particular, the church is a gathering of people. Edmund Clowney (1995) writes:

The term ekklesia is the Greek Old Testament translation of the Hebrew word qahal, and it describes an assembly…Both ekklesia and qahal denote an actual assembly, rather than a ‘congregation’ (which may or may not be ‘congregated’). (p. 30)

Although church (ekklesia) may not be a building, it is a literal gathering, an assembly of people. So, “to do church,” if you will, means at the very least “to gather.” Why would we go out of our way to go to church every week? Because at its core, that’s what church is, a gathering. As pastor Mark Dever (2012) says, “The local church is more than…a gathering, but it is never less” (p. 132).

Now, at this point, we might ask, “Why would God want us to gather?” What’s going on here? What is the theological significance of the church actually gathering?

More on that in a future post… :)

dg

References

Clowney, E. P. (1995). The Church. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press.

Dever, M. (2012). The Church: The Gospel Made Visible. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic.

Three Lies About Your Past That Keep You From Church

I sometimes hear people say, “I haven’t been back to church since ________ (insert embarrassing incident with self or family member).” The reason they haven’t attended church since then is because they have come to believe one of the lies listed below. And when you believe one of these lies, church becomes a scary place you want to avoid.

Trusting During Trouble_wide_t_nt

Let’s correct each of these lies.

Everyone knows.

No they don’t. Not everyone. Maybe some people know, but everyone? I mean EVERY-one? I don’t think so. Don’t believe that lie. If you catch yourself using that language, stop. Seriously. It’s patently false. Don’t be duped into staying home in shame.

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Big Church, Little Church

Church Steeple in Poland

I’ve had a question in my head lately.

What is the difference between a healthy large church and a healthy small church?

If all things were relatively equal, what would be the difference? Do we lose anything or gain anything as we move from one size to the other?

So far, I have thought of two major distinctions. When we move from a small church to a large church, two significant things happen.

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Images of the Church – The Temple

Jerusalem Temple Sketch

The Temple of the Old Testament figured large in the minds of the Israelites. The temple, as a physical structure, symbolized the presence of God in Israel, and in fact, God’s presence rested on the Temple.

Life for the average Israelite centered on the Temple. People made regular pilgrimages there for festivals and to fulfill sacrificial rites and responsibilities. The Temple sat high atop Mount Zion in the heart of Jerusalem. To approach Jerusalem was to see this great Temple in all its splendor. Thus, literally and figuratively, all of Jerusalem and all of Israel sat in the shadow of the Temple.

When David had finished his wars, his heart beat for the construction of the Temple. Until that point in Israelite history, the Lord dwelt in a tent called the Tabernacle. But as David conquered and captured Jerusalem for Israel, he had a vision for building a great Temple for the permanent dwelling of the Lord.

David would not complete the construction, but his son, Solomon, would accomplish this great architectural feat. Solomon would craft a beautiful and grand structure, made by the finest craftsmen with the finest materials. It would be a landmark building, the boast of Israel.

When Israel was carried off into captivity, the great lament would be for the Temple. When the Israelites returned from captivity, one of the first tasks would be to rebuild the Temple. The temple was so central. But in the New Testament, something startling happens.

In the New Testament, something surprising happens; the church loses interest in the Temple. Now how can that be? How can this national symbol, this literal place of God’s dwelling lose interest in the minds of the church?

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