The Purpose Behind The Gathered Church
What should take place when Christians gather for church?
As Christians we often attend church without giving much thought to what takes place while we’re there. We are usually aware of the things we don’t like (“this song is really annoying,” “that sermon was too long,” etc.), and maybe a few things we did like (“wow, this coffee is really good,” “those people were so friendly”), but most of us probably aren’t really clear on what should be happening when Christians meet together for a church service.
Is what takes place during any given service simply a matter of preference? What is the driving purpose behind the gathering?
At Sojourn, we believe that there is a more important question to ask when planning for our church services. Rather than starting with what we want to do, we need to ask: “What does God want to take place when his people gather?” Anyone responsible for helping to plan or lead a church service needs to pursue an answer to that question.
At Sojourn, we have a liturgy that we follow on a weekly basis to help us focus on the things we believe are most important to God.
For many of us the term “liturgy” might bring to mind a gathering that is very formal and solemn–it might do more to provoke images of the traditional Catholic mass rather than anything relevant to a “contemporary” worship context. However, the reality is that every church has a liturgy.
The word “liturgy” means “public work,” or “the work of the people.” Basically, a church’s liturgy refers to the specific elements regularly included in the service and the order in which they take place. The liturgy is what the members of a church do when they meet. And every church that you attend 'does' something.
So it’s not just the traditional Catholic churches that follow a liturgy, the most contemporary, innovative churches do as well–liturgies can be formal or informal.
At Sojourn we want to consistently focus on what God says is most important. We see that the central theme of Scripture is God’s redemptive work through Jesus. Our goal for our Sunday services at Sojourn is to re-present the good news of Jesus so as to bring the most glory to God and good to his people. In the next post we will look specifically at how our liturgy is structured to accomplish this goal.
Q. How would you define the purpose of the worship gathering?
Q. What do you believe the church should 'do' when it gathers for corporate worship?