Community is something we all need. That’s why we often invest so much time in trying to find, create, or develop it. We can find community in our family, at work, or through things like hobbies and sports. For followers of Christ, we can also find community when we gather as a church.
But what’s the purpose of gathering in these communities? For families, it might be to celebrate birthdays or holidays. At work, we gather to support one another toward a common business goal. Hobbies and sports provide the opportunity to gather together to revel in a common interest.
It’s important to note that the church is more than a building or a place. The church is people. Jesus says in Matthew 18:20 (NIV), “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Wherever followers of Christ are, that’s where the church is.
Consider these four reasons why Christians gather together.
Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) reminds us that we are “God’s workmanship.” We exist to bring glory to God, no matter what we’re doing (1 Corinthians 10:31). The act of corporate worship is one of the primary reasons that Christians gather. Beyond singing, corporate worship places our focus on God and creates space for edifying and building each other up.
We see this illustrated in Colossians 3:16-17 (NIV).
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
So, it’s important that when Christians gather that worship doesn’t become solely about how we’re feeling in the moment. The focus should be on the truth. The focus should be on the gospel. The focus should be on addressing God.
Since the beginning of creation, we’ve seen that it’s not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). When we’re alone, we’re disconnected. We find connections and community when we gather, with a shared unity in Christ.
It can be hard to meet together as a church, whether it’s in a large corporate setting or in smaller groups in homes. The pandemic complicated physical gatherings for over two years, making virtual gatherings part of a new normal. The Christian Prayer Breakfast even pivoted to a virtual gathering in 2021. Online meetings are convenient, easy, and sometimes make it easier to bring people together. But while there are positive aspects to connecting online, it can’t replicate the gathered church.
“Gathering with other believers is messy. Loving other people—getting involved in their lives—is messy. But you know what? So is love,“ says Jonathan Leeman, the editorial director for 9Marks and cohost of the Pastors’ Talk podcast.
Like Leeman says, it’s hard, messy, and complicated to connect, admonish each other in love, and strive to live together in unity. But Jesus came to earth with a new command when he said, “… Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34 NIV).
As we come out of a time when it was so difficult to gather together, Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) is particularly relevant.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
The day of Christ’s return is coming. Let’s help each other to keep our eyes on him.
Coming together enables us to grow our faith. We hear God’s Word, and we learn how to apply it to our lives. The Apostle Paul says, “… faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17 NIV).
The Word of God is fuel for our faith. Coming together provides the opportunity to hear and dwell on scripture in corporate worship. And in smaller groups, we’re able to discuss how to apply what we learn from the Bible to our lives in ways, exchange ideas, engage in conversation, and develop meaningful relationships that are rooted in Christ.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
This passage from 2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV) reminds us about the purpose of the Bible. It teaches us how to live. It holds up a mirror to expose our sin. But it also reveals the perfect life and sacrifice of Jesus. Most importantly, it guides us in our pursuit of living like Christ.
Prayer is powerful. Ephesians 6:18 encourages us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” And 1 John 5:15 reminds us that our prayers are always heard.
Prayer by ourselves is valuable in fostering our relationship with God (Matthew 6:5-20), but there is also value and purpose in praying together. It unifies us in Christ, edifies and encourages, helps to mature faith, and can help facilitate a repentant heart.
And we see descriptions of and promptings for followers of Christ prayer gatherings.
“And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (Acts 1:13-14 NIV).
“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven” (James 5:14-15 NIV)
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6 NIV)
The power of gathering together and lifting up our community and its leaders up in prayer is why the Christian Prayer Breakfast exists. Be sure to watch our event page for updates on the next opportunity to come together in one voice to glorify God.