Reach Gather Grow
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Lesson Two • Gather
Pastor Pat Rowland

Everyone loves a vacation! It is time away for a little rest and relaxation with people you love. A vacation takes some planning and thought.

1. What would be your ideal vacation?

A mountain retreat, beach get-away, or cross country RV trip could come to mind. For many people that ideal dream vacation would be some type of luxury cruise.

2. If you have been on a cruise ship, what makes it an ideal vacation?

Cruise ships are designed for one purpose, entertainment. A vacation cruise ship goes out of its way to make sure its passengers have a worry-free, happy, and fun experience. From the endless buffets to the abundant activities, you want for nothing on a cruise. They will even keep your kids busy so you can have some time with your wife. Cruise ships will make sure you have the time of your life. Why? It is because they want you to tell all of your friends about your amazing vacation.

Sometimes people tend to think of a Church as a cruise ship, in that it is supposed to meet my every need and go out of its way to make me happy. Some would consider the ideal Church to be a place of complete enjoyment, perfect customer service, and an experience they could not help but tell their friends.

It is true that a Church will meet people’s needs, and attending will raise your level of joy. However, the church is not for our entertainment; it is for our equipping and encouragement. It is not a place to be served; it is where we are privileged to serve. It is not just something we tell people about; it is where we invite them to be a part.

A better illustration of a ship for describing the Church might be an aircraft carrier. An aircraft carrier is always on a mission, and its purpose is not to carry passengers to beautiful destinations. Its purpose is to be a place for launching people into mission. Planes will land to be refueled while pilots debrief, and receive orders for their next mission. It is a dock for training and development while always being on alert and ready for action. 

3. Do you feel like your expectations of Church identify more with it being a cruise ship or an aircraft carrier?

We gather in worship each week with expectations as well as needs after having a week where we faced demands and deadlines, schedules and stress, people and pressure. It is safe to say that the other six days of the week take from you, so you need the seventh to give something back to you.

4. How do you feel come Sunday?

5. What do you desire from a time of worship?

Worship defined simply means giving your “worth” to something or someone. It is giving of your time, your money, talents, or attention to something you greatly value. At its core, worship is about giving, not about what you get back from it, and anything can be worshiped.

There are three clear distinctions of Christian worship.

Christian worship is focused on the God of the universe, the one true triune God.

The very first of the Ten Commandments, given to the people of Israel from God, is, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Later in Exodus 34:14, God reminds them again that He desires their worship, “For you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Of all the things to which you give worth, God is to be the highest of our giving.

6. Do you feel there are things in your life that compete for your worship of God? If so, what?

Christian worship is to bring God glory.

Worship is to be active, not just verbal or in our thoughts. Because of all that God has done for us and our worth of Him, we are to express that in how we live. Paul, writing instructions to the church at Corinth says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Our everyday ordinary life purpose is to bring God glory. Bringing glory to God is something we are to do individually seven days a week as an act of worship.

7. Have you ever considered what you do every day and in every way is your worship?

8. Does that change the way you act or see things Monday through Saturday?

Focusing on the aspect of worshiping God in everyday life begins to have a multiplying effect on our faith and relationship with Christ. Paul refers to it as “being transformed.” In 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV), we read, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” As we focus on bringing glory to God every day, we become more like Christ. It also has an increasing effect on our Sunday worship.

Christian worship is to be corporate worship, which is what we typically think of as worship.

It is important that as believers, we come together weekly to gather for a time of worship.

9. What do you value about corporate worship?

The gathering has been part of the Christian Church since its beginning. In Acts 2:42-47, we read about the fellowship of the believers in the early Church. They “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship.” We gather first for the purpose of teaching and the proclamation of the Gospel, just as the early Church did.

10. Do you see the preaching of God’s Word as part of worship or separate from it?

It is important that God’s Word is central, meaning that a worship gathering must always include the proclamation of God’s Word. Most of the time, that includes a Pastor’s teaching from Scriptures, but it also includes the singing. The words of a worship song matter and they should be in line with biblical instruction.

11. The early Christian church also devoted themselves to “fellowship.” What does fellowship mean to you?

The fellowship of the gathering is not just what we get from it; it is also what we give to it. As chapter two closes out, Paul points out that when the early Church met together, they “praised God and enjoyed the favor of all the people” (Acts 2:47).

In God’s creation, He said it is not good for us to be alone (Genesis 2:18); we are created to work in community. The fellowship of the Church, or the body of Christ is an association in a shared mission. We are part of something bigger than ourselves because of our relationship with God, but also because we are part of “fellowship.” Corporate worship reminds us that we are not in this alone.

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