We believers are a meeting people. From the church's beginning on the day of Pentecost, fifty days after our Lord's resurrection, the believers have been gathered together as the church (Acts 2:41-45). We were saved to be the church, and as the church we gather continually and steadfastly. Although many Christians prefer to practice the Christian life individually, God's intention is that all the believers would meet together corporately.
Our meetings are living; that is, they are full of the enjoyment and expression of the divine life, which we as the children of God possess. Our meetings are focused on the truth; that is, we take the Bible and its revelation concerning the Triune God and His economy, the Person and work of Christ, and the operation of the Spirit as our content. Our meetings are in mutuality; that is we encourage the speaking of every believer and reject the clergy-laity system, where by only one man speaks and all others listen passively. Our meetings are inclusive; that is, we accept and welcome all who believe in Christ as the God-man who lived, died, and rose from the dead because of our sins and for our justification before God (Rom. 4:25). And our meetings are based more on function than on form; that is, we conduct our meetings not according to ritual and tradition but for the sake of furthering the edification of the saints and the building up of the Body of Christ.
The apostle Paul also speaks of another kind of church meeting in his first Epistle to the Corinthians: "What then, brothers? Whenever you come together, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up" (14:26). This is a meeting in which all the brothers and sisters exercise their function to speak, for the building up of the Body of Christ. This is what Paul calls prophesying. It is not fortelling but "forth-telling," speaking for God and speaking forth Christ from the Word of God for the edification of the believers and for the building up of the church (1 Cor. 14:3-4). This "all-saints-prophesying" meeting provides the brothers and sisters with the teaching, revelation, consolation, and exhortation that they need as the one church in their locality and these things are ministered not by a few gifted ones but by all the members mutually (1 Cor. 14:1, 31).
We also gather as the church to pray corporately. In the New Testament there are numerous instances of the saints gathering to pray (Acts 2:42; 4:23-32; 12:5). The cuurch gathers at least once a week to pray for the move of God's economy on the earth, for the binding of the activities of God's enemy, and for the needs of the local church. In this meeting, all the saints function one by one, praying short, released prayers to discharge our burden for the Lord's move through the church.
sometimes in larger churches, the church meetings are held in district groups of around fifty saints so that there may be more opportunity for the saints to function. The Lord's table meeting, the prophesying meeting, and the prayer meeting are sometimes held in districts.
the Christian life is a corporate life, and a great part of our corporateness is expressed in our meetings. As the Scriptures exhort, we do not abandon our assembling together, as the custom with some is, and so much the more as we see the day of our Lord's return drawing near (Heb. 10:24-25).
©1993 Living Stream Ministry, P.O. Box 2121 Anaheim, CA 92814