While the COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably altered the way we gather for worship, it cannot change our value for community. That is why it has become so important for us to be creative and flexible about how we gather, and to revisit the reasons for why we worship together.
That is the purpose of this study: to uncover the biblical rationale for gathering. There are elements of our communal gathering that are crucial to our spiritual development and to our ministry in the world. Our prayers, songs, celebrations, and traditions all serve a meaningful purpose and should be preserved, even when we cannot meet to practice them the way we used to, or with as many people as we used to.
While our expectation is that we will eventually return to our usual form of Sunday gathering, there is still a unique opportunity to be seized in this season. This is our chance to assess our own value for gathering. Now, while we cannot take our gathering for granted, we can take time to discover what Christian community should include and why it matters.
As you study, examine your own practice of gathering with your small group, or with your family. Is it consistent? Does it have everything it needs to be healthy and transformative? Does it result in the growth of the participants? Does it inspire outreach towards those whom you are in proximity to? Look to the example of the church described in Acts 2:42-47 and make note of what they practiced and what the result of their practices was.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the community, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47; ESV).”
Keep these questions and reflections in mind as you progress through this study on Christian gathering. Our prayer is that you and your community would be refreshed with a revitalized love for the family of God and a deepened appreciation for the traditions and practices that strengthen it.
Read Acts 2:42-47 and make a list of the qualities you see. Does your community exhibit similar qualities?
Take a moment to pray. Ask God for wisdom and insight as you prepare to study the elements of Christian community and worship.