Last week I started to post on some values that surround why we gather. What are the pillars we are looking for as we gather? What is God’s intent for us as we gather as a community? And if God’s everywhere, why do I need to go to a gathering?
Something Was Missing
Before we were married, my wife (who was my girlfriend at the time) and I were looking for a church to get connected to and call home. One Sunday, when we were visiting a certain church, we walked away with an undefined odd/unsettled feeling. The community was very welcoming, the worship was lively and the coffee and asthetic of the church was great! We were young and a bit naive and it took us awhile to get to the root of the feeling: we didn’t hear from the Bible very much.
They Devoted Themselves To Teaching
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. – Acts 2:42
I love how Acts paints for us the picture of this early church, a community moving in signs and wonders, eating in one another’s homes and giving to one another freely. But they didn’t fully arrive at that depth of community before having “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching”. So many of the values that the New Testament church walked in are described here in Acts 2. Each of the values contributed to the whole health of the church. For us to likewise live in the fullness of a healthy church, we must also prize the word of God and devote ourselves to reading and responding to those words.
Prizing The Word of God
It doesn’t take long at all, maybe 10 minutes at the most, to come to understand what each of my kids prize. My one son specifically will find some way of steering every conversation to Star Wars, Mine craft or hockey. He’s a transitional genius! What we prize in our hearts as a community will be evident as we gather. What we prize and cherish most will be sensed in the flavour of our gatherings. If we are devoting ourselves to the Word in our hearts throughout the week and as we gather, it will be something that visitors will notice and take home with them.
There is a difference between saying we are a church that believes in the Word of God and holds to the authority of scripture, and demonstrating the framework the Word gives us that we build our gatherings on. In the next post we’ll talk about the latter half of this statement more but to be a church of Word and Spirit, the Word has to be manifest in everything as much as the Spirit is. We often open with the scriptures, drawing people to the biblical magnitude of God and His redemptive work. As our worship leaders choose, write and practice songs for our gathering, we are looking for strong biblical themes that draw us to worship Christ out of a sense of true biblical conviction and words that are based on His truth. With those that teach and preach at our gatherings, we aim for messages that have their foundation, starting point, grounding and plumb line in the words of scripture.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. – James 1:22
I think if we stopped there we might only get half of the picture. We’d leave one another half-way to the mark. We would have only talked about the Word and expanded our knowledge at best. When we gather, we gather around the word, let it fill our hearts and minds and then we ask ourselves: What do we do with this word of truth now? What does that look like applied to my life? Our goal in the singing, reading and proclamation of the Word of God as we gather is that the truth may transform our hearts and minds to the heart and mind of Christ as we respond to His Word.
We want to allow the full weight of the Word of God to be a part of the marinade of our gatherings, that we’d see it accurately handled and used as we gather and respond to God’s words of truth by allowing it to transform our hearts, attitudes and intentions to that of Christ.