What’s a Meeting For?

The brothers in the church where I live have been tossing around this question for a little while. What’s the purpose of the gathering of the saints? That question keeps popping up and we seem to be hitting on some similar conclusions each time we come at it. Now, don’t get me wrong…there’s no consensus about this thing because it’s multi-faceted. There’s no one simple answer that encompasses the purpose of the meeting of the church. And I’m not about to presume to give any definitive answer on it. But I think we’ve hit on a few things that it ISN’T about, and a few things that it IS about. So here goes my attempt:

The meeting of the saints ISN’T an end in itself. It’s not the reason we exist. As we say in the churches I run with: The church isn’t the meetings. The meetings express what the church is. But the church can’t be reduced to its meetings. We are the church all the time. Of course, this is so much easier to see when there’s some kind of community going on. When you live really close together, for example, the communal aspect of the church is made visible. It’s like a family. And a family doesn’t become a family by eating supper together. It already is a family. Everything it does is as a family. But because it IS a family, they spend a lot of time together, and they eat together. Likewise the church is the church whatever it does. It doesn’t become the church because it does the right thing when it meets. Please don’t buy that mentality. The church is so much more than its meetings.

For this reason, “tweaking” our meetings must never become the focus of our attention. If the meetings are bad, the problem isn’t with the meetings. The meetings are an expression of the life of the church. If the meetings are flat, or boring, or whatever, it’s because the rest of the life of the church is needing more Life. Now I’m not knocking the occasional “how are we doing” talk, where you frankly discuss what’s going well and what’s not going well (including what happened in the last meeting). We should always be willing to discuss what is helpful to the meeting. For example, if one guy never shuts up, or has to get the first word or the last word on everything shared, it’s okay to point that out. If you don’t say something it’ll never stop. But the mechanics of our meeting should never become the preoccupation of our minds. The meetings are the natural outgrowth of the Life of the church. So manipulating the meeting to effect change in the rest of the life of the church is getting the cart before the horse. The meeting is like a barometer, or a thermometer, rather than a thermostat. It shows how the church is doing. It’s not a mechanism for fixing the church’s temperature.

I’ve heard brothers and sisters in other places make this same discovery recently: You can become so caught up in trying to BE the church that you forget that you ALREADY ARE the church. The heart of religion is in trying to get it right. Say it right. Feel it right. Let us never fall into that trap. We’re discovering that those of us who have forsaken so many of the traditional Christian trappings will still fall into the very same things we were hoping to escape. It’s in human nature. We are always trying to reduce this Life into something clearly definable, easily repeatable. We want a clear measuring stick by which we can judge everything we say and do as a church. But it doesn’t work that way. Following that cloud is a bit more unpredictable than that. There’s always more to learn. There’s always sides to Him that we’ve barely even touched. He’s a vast Ocean of experience, and we’re still snorkeling around the shallows of Him.

There’s so much more to say here. But I’ve got to teach a class of reprobates now. Maybe I’ll wax eloquent again later.

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4 Responses to “What’s a Meeting For?”

  1. J. Samuel Thomas Says:

    “The meetings are an expression of the life of the church. If the meetings are flat, or boring, or whatever, it’s because the rest of the life of the church is needing more Life.”

    I would at least say that you can see the expression of the life of the church within the meeting (not splitting hairs here, but I think you know what I mean).

    It seems to me that the experience of the meeting is the collective experience of the saints. Flatness in the meeting is due to flatness within the individual saints…and as much as I hate to say it,…it can be (not always is) “contagious”.

    As is the Lords life.

    I thank The Lord that we are the church by nature and not through religious activity!

    Like you said, there is much that can be said about the subject at hand….

    By the way, after you wax eloquent would you mind putting a coat on my Voyager?

    Thanks
    Love Ya!

  2. Herobill Says:

    Saaah-Wheeet!

    Amen… keep it up, man!

  3. Sarah Says:

    yeah.
    Yeah.
    YEAH!!!!

  4. Goody Says:

    Ditto,ditto,ditto!!

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