Every Thursday afternoon, for one hour or so, I meet with a young man to talk about Christianity. He has lots of questions and seems to be genuinely intrigued by the person of Jesus Christ. So far we’ve briefly discussed the most important thing, which is the Gospel message. The Bible itself declares it to be “…of first importance…” (1 Corinthians 15:3).
This Thursday he asked me what it was that we did at church on Sunday. I’m pretty certain he was curious as to what the nature of the Sunday service practically looked like. So I rubbed my hands with glee (not literally) and thus began. For your good, here are the nuts and bolts of our brief conversation and some other relevant details which I think will help.
The church meets inside a building
When I was a young boy, I was always told that the church was a building. One would go to church and then come back from church; it was all very physical and geographical. I carried this notion with me for many years until I started reading the Bible for myself and asking God to help me understand it. It was then that Bible verses like Romans 16:5 caused me to rethink what the church is. Consider what Romans 16:5 says: “… greet the church that is in their house.” (Romans 16:5)
The above verse suggests that the church was meeting inside someone’s house. Anyone with half an idea would quickly see the problem with that. But it shouldn’t be seen as a problem and should instead be looked at as a question. If the church was a physical building or a geographical place to visit, how is it that a building can meet inside a building? Something quite physically impossible and certainly not the Bibles intended meaning of church. Therefore, the word ‘church’ must mean something significantly different; and if it does, what is it?
The word ‘church’ comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as ‘an assembly’ or ‘called-out ones.’ The very word itself – church – has nothing to do with a physical building, but everything to do with people. It would be more accurate to say that it is the people ‘called-out ones’ (church) that meet inside the building. In other words, a true Christian, (someone who was repented of their sins and put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation) is a member of the church.
There’s much more that could be added to this, but suffice to say, it should help you understand this simple premise: the church is an assembly of people; the church is an assembly of Christians. The church sometimes meets in buildings, homes, underground; and in some countries, even out in the open fields and under trees.
The church meets for a purpose
The church (called-out ones) meets every Sunday at 11am in a building on Kingston Road, Southall for a number of very specific reasons. In the Bible (Acts of the Apostles), you can read how the church met regularly to devote themselves to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers. They had all things in common and were constantly seeking to find ways to help others. Read Acts 2:42-47.
The church meets in Southall for the same purposes. We come together every Sunday for a service which usually lasts between one or two hours. The main emphasis in the service is to hear the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, the Bible. Because the Bible is God’s chosen method in communicating and speaking His truth to us, we believe it plays a central role in the true worship of God. In His great love for us and through the revelation of the Bible, He has made known to us His person and His purposes. In light of this, we can then approach God and respond to Him through a living relationship.
As I have pastoral, preaching and teaching responsibilities in the church, I along with two other leaders assume the responsibility of preparing and preaching these messages. Each week, we systematically enjoy going through the Bible – verse by verse – to make known God’s person and God’s purposes. These messages, known also as sermons, are usually forty or so minutes long. But the focus is placed on the text, what it says to us and how it applies to our everyday lives.
The Worship of God
Another major part of the Sunday service is the worship of God through the singing of hymns and songs. Because of whom God is – creator, divine, holy, perfect, Redeemer, Saviour – He deserves our adoration, confession, praise, thanksgiving and worship. Similarly, because of what He has done for us – the giving of His Son to die for the penalty of sins – He is deserving of all our affections, allegiance, obedience and lives. Worship is the right way to demonstrate and express our love for God.
Alongside the preaching and worship, the Sunday service also consists of prayers, further reading of the Bible and occasionally testimonies. We also take a few moments to share some announcements of activities and events in the life of the church. After the service is over, the church usually stays behind to fellowship with one another. Fellowship is being with fellow Christians and is marked by loving, helping, sharpening and encouraging one another.
The church also meets together for Bible study every Tuesday night at 7:30pm. This allows us to study and look deeper at the Bible.
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