Is This the Best Way to Say This?

Let's think about this, indeed. This is a pretty popular slogan among churches these days and has been for quite some time. And the idea behind it is commendable. The motive is honorable. It is indeed the case that far too many churches are content to just be the church on Sunday mornings and never actually live sent lives in their communities. There is much more to being the church then just gathering together on Sundays. We are to live as a sent community of believers to be salt and light in the world, making disciples of our neighbors and the nations as we go about our lives each and every day.  I am all in favor for that biblical truth.

However, when we toss around so frequently slogans such as "Don't go to church. Be the Church," are we not communicating something that is fairly unbiblical? Likewise, when churches actually cancel their Sunday morning gatherings occasionally to go and "be the church" is that really a practice we honestly think that Paul or Timothy would have ever signed off on? It seems to me that when we use phrases and practices such as this that we are implying that "the Church gathered" is somehow inferior to "the Church scattered."  It is as if we should not be as excited and awe-inspired about what goes on Sunday mornings when we gather together as the Church as we are about what happens throughout the week when the Church is scattered.

Yet, when we look at the New Testament and the references to the "church" I think we will find that there are far more occasions where it is the church "gathered" together than the church "scattered" together. The majority of the epistles were written to the church gathered together. The letters to Timothy were written to Timothy to help him in leading the church gathered together.  As you look throughout the Book of Acts, yes there are occasions where individual members of the church or a couple of members from the church are out doing ministry, but predominantly when the church or group of believers are mentioned they are mentioned as being together and worshiping together. 

The Church scattered is a vital component to the missional identity of the Church. And it is one that is far too often neglected.  However, the fuel for the church scattered throughout the week in our individual callings and areas of ministry influence is what happens when the church is gathered together each week. It is as we come together--not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together--addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,singing and making melody to the Lord in our hearts (Eph. 5:19), praying with and for one another and the Gospel ministry God has called us to, hearing from the Lord from His Word reminding us of the realities and glories of the Gospel, that we are encouraged and refreshed to scatter out across our streets and across the oceans to make disciples of our neighbors and the nations, being the Church.The "church gathered" cannot rightly be called the church if it is not also the "church scattered." Likewise, the "church scattered" is unable to rightly be the church scattered if it is not also the "church gathered" together on a weekly basis. 

Jeff Purswell writes,

By definition, to be the church is to gather in God’s presence and to worship God together. And when we begin singing, we join the glorious worship that takes place unceasingly before the throne of God.

This is true regardless of how we feel, who leads worship, what songs we sing, or how we think worship went. There is something incredible happening on Sunday morning!

Be the church and go to church. Something eternal is going on in there. Don’t miss it. 

May we never think or inadvertently imply that this is not being the Church...