What does it mean to gather as Christ's church?
By Rick Owen
Gathering as Christ's Church (or ekklesia, the NT Greek word for summoned assembly) means
- building up one another1 (edification)
- in Christ-centered community (the NT Greek word koinonia pictures sharing life in the Lord)
- according to Jesus' pattern2 (teaching, fellowship, breaking bread and prayers)
- with spiritual devotion3 (mutual service motivated by love and aided by His Spirit).
|ACTS 2:42||TEACHING||FELLOWSHIP||EATING ||PRAYERS |
|ROM 12, 14-15||X||X||X||X|
|1 COR 10-14||X||X||X||X|
|GAL 2, 5, 6||X||X||X||X|
|EPH 4, 5||X||X||X||X|
|COL 2, 3||X||X||X||X|
|2 THESS 1-3||X||X||X||X|
|1 TIM 2-6||X||X||X||X|
|2 PET 1-3||X||X||X||X|
The preceding chart illustrates a simple and consistent pattern throughout the New Testament. What began in Acts 2, as Christ poured out His Spirit from heaven to implant life and power into His New Covenant body, continues throughout the growth and development of the church. Each of the passages cited refer either directly or indirectly to these activities.
“Eating” is highlighted above in Acts 20:7ff and 1 Cor. 11:17ff because these two passages reveal that breaking bread (or the Lord’s Supper as a meal) was a primary reason, if not the main reason, the church met. Other things took place, too, but within this context of Christ-centered, New Covenant celebration and renewal. See Lord’s Supper Logic for more evidence of this.
Most importantly, notice how these activities are CHRIST-CENTERED. The teaching from Scripture was about Christ, the generous and joyous fellowship revolved around sharing God's blessings in Christ, the meal proclaimed His saving death and anticipated His return, and prayer was offered to God through Christ and in His name.
1Learn more about "building up one another" from this presentation on Participatory Meetings.
2More is explained about "Christ-centered fellowship" and "Jesus' pattern” in Gathering as Christ's Ekklesia.
3The New Testament concept of being "aided by His Spirit” is discussed in J. I. Packer's Paraclete & Spiritual Gifts.
Also see Preparation, Spontaneity and the Work of the Spirit When we Gather.