By Nate Phor
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
A few weeks ago we did a question and response session on the church. One of the questions that we didn’t really get to was about how often the church should meet, and whether we should be having more organised prayer meetings, bible studies and the like. After all the early church as we saw in Acts 2 met DAILY.
My response is that the church should be meeting as often as necessary, which, admittedly, is a little vague. Each church is in a different season of life, with different people, with different needs, and different focusses as prompted by the Holy Spirit. For example, I would argue that the church in Jerusalem in Acts 2 would be very different from the ones in Gentile nations that Paul had established. The difference in knowledge of the Old Testament (or at that time it would simply be “Scripture”) would have been massive. I wouldn’t be surprised in the early church in Gentile nations would have needed to help the converts to Christianity build the foundation of the word of God, something the converts in Jerusalem might already have.
Something that I have been thinking more about recently is that a local church can organise as many meetings as necessary, but that does not necessarily translate to people growing in their faith. In fact I’ve become wary of establishing what I call “Checkbox Christianity” where people attend meetings without engaging their hearts and minds, and still feel like they have done what they need to in order to grow.
When I was 18 I did a CertIV in Youth Ministry. I attended classes on Christology (study of Christ) and Pneumatology (study of the Holy Spirit). I did the unit surveying the New Testament. I passed all my units and got the certificate to prove that I was there. Years later when I went back to bible college to further my education I realised to my horror that I retained little from my first stint in college. I checked the box, but it did little to grow my faith.
The point of prayer meetings, bible studies, and other such meetings a church organises is simply to give an opportunity for people to engage in different disciplines or to learn more about their faith.
Can they be a waste of time? Absolutely.
Why? Because a church cannot force a person to engage deeply in the program. This is a responsibility that lies with each individual.
A church is transformed when people deeply engage in the practices that the church organises. It takes 2 hands to clap. That’s why the author of Hebrews writes to the people AND the church not to neglect meeting together. The church is made of people, and people together make the church.
So let’s go church. Let’s not neglect meeting together! Let’s grow and be encouraged together! Let’s be the church God has in His heart!