“Let us not give up the habit of meeting together…Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer”
Being currently involved in two small group experiences and worship with the people of UM4GI churches, I’ve been thinking about our habits of meeting together. Too much of the time, we talk about church as worship. We say of our Sundays, “I missed church on Sunday,” or “I’m going to church.” What we’re really talking about is corporate worship of the church. Worship is a practice of the church: it is not, by itself, the definition of church.
We should know this – “The church is not a building, the church is a people” – but our language betrays us. By using church as a substitute for worship, we run the risk of over-emphasizing worship and de-emphasizing the importance of other practices of being the church. Is it any wonder that we struggle with forming ongoing small groups for the purpose of growing in our discipleship? Our language makes us think being part of small group is something extra for extra-holy people to do in addition to church (worship), instead of what it truly is – a practice that forms us as the church.
Let’s try an experiment. Let’s keep meeting together – in worship, in homes, at restaurants, and on running paths – but let’s see if simply changing our language can lead to a shift in our culture. Let’s go to worship, while emphasizing that we are being the church in many ways beyond the walls of church buildings.