Christian services: Why we meet

Why do Christians meet? What are church 'services' mean to be about? If we stick to the concept of 'worship' in it’s true biblical sense – as our faith response of obedience and service to God – then is ‘worship’ the central reason why Christians gather together? Is worship at least one of the main reasons for church 'services?'

Why Christians meet together

There is abundant teaching in the New Testament on the reasons why Christians should meet together. But a very simple look at the New Testament teaching itself would seem to forbid us upholding ‘worship’ as a central reason for the Christian gathering.

It is clear that ‘worship’ is nowhere expressly taught as a reason why Christians did, should or do gather. In fact the Greek words that are translated in our Bibles as ‘worship’ or ‘service’ are not often used to describe what Christians did when they gathered corporately. The New Testament certainly does not provide a single example of a Christian gathering where they sang songs at all, let alone involving themselves in such events as are staged at many Charismatic and Pentecostal meetings.

The New Testament specifically teaches that the reason Christians should meet together, while not for ‘worship’, is for ‘edification’ and ‘fellowship’; that is, to build one another up in faith and share in communion (common-union through Christ) (Hebrews 10:24-25). How we build each other up as Christians is worth emphasising: it is through speaking God’s word to one another (Ephesians 4:15), for by this we encourage, comfort and strengthen each other in our faith in Christ (1 Corinthians 14:3). As previously mentioned, we do not edify each other unless we come together with "some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction" (1 Corinthians 14:4-6). Whether we bring a "hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation", either way, "these must be done for the strengthening of the church" (1 Corinthians 14:26); that is, it is the word of God by which those with word gifts "prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up", with the ultimate goal of reaching "unity in the faith" and becoming "mature" in Christ. And to this goal each and every member of the body has its part to play (Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 12).

There is no doubt that the reason why Jews gathered together at the temple was for worship. But that old system awaited the coming of Christ. To hold that we now gather together for the central purpose of worship – where Christians approach God by presenting to him a sacrifice of praise, by which they enter his presence and receive his blessing – is to hold onto an old (and redundant) model. When we do have earthly gatherings now, it is not so that we can draw near to God by our offering of 'worship' to him. To be sure, as we put our faith in Jesus and display our faith in Jesus when we meet together we do consequently 'draw near to God' (According to Hebrews 10:19-22). But the reason why we meet together (and should meet together, and need to meet together) is in order to "spur one another on towards love and good deeds", so that we may "encourage one another" as we "see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25). | joe towns: christian discussion on pentecost, charisma, pentecostal and charismatic beliefs, the Bible and Jesus; including the origin and history of pentecostalism, baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, gifts and miracles, divine healing and word of faith, prosperity and wealth, praise and worship, guidance and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.