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Meeting together

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

– Hebrews 10:25, New International Version (as found on Bible Gateway)

I have had a love-hate relationship with the church for a long, long time.

One of the main reasons is the Sunday service.

Work late the night before. Get up early enough to rush through your shower and speed to church hopefully to make it on time.

Sit there, and hear what amounts to a scripted presentation, including a musical presentation and a speech. Some churches, like the one I go to, kick in communion every week (others do so, on a less frequent basis).

Sit in a room with a bunch of strangers. Every week seems to bring a new batch of them, too. Shake their hands when the speaker prompts you to, right before the speech.

Then, when the presentation is finished, most everyone gets up and leaves. The restaurants get crowded real quick on Sundays, you know.

And don’t forget to show up and do it all over again next Sunday. Because, you know, you are required to be in church.

I’ve seen it for years and it’s not going to change anytime soon.

Is that what the writer of Hebrews had in mind?

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  1. gH
    October 17, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    It is better to find 7 good friends and see them all randomly every couple weeks, text back and forth, email & phone than to perpetuate the charade of a forum who’s time has past. When Hebrews was written the church was underground, not gathering in auditoriums being lectured at and being manipulated with visuals and kilobuck sound systems. The writer had something far more organic in mind.

  2. jlo
    October 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Brian, I struggle with this also. Part of me wants to be involved with the church as we know it today, but most of the time I end up feeling that something was missing at the end of it all.

  3. Joe B
    October 17, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    I have found that referring to a sermon as a “speech” can get you lynched. Same with calling a worship set a “sing-a-long”. You and I differ only a little, the difference being that I kinda like speeches and crowds of strangers. If that’s all I had for fellowship in Jesus, I’d be miserable. Oh, we might also differ in another way: I do not care what people tell me I ought to do.

  4. BrianD
    October 17, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Good observation, Joe.

    Thanks, jlo and gH.

  5. October 18, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I’ve been a book that has been very thought provoking for me on this topic, called Where Would Jesus Lead, by Gary Goodell – this quote really has me thinking about where the emphasis is within many churches

    “Someone calculated that 80 percent of all time, staff energy, and finances in a local church are required to produce and sustain the Sunday (or weekend) flagship meeting. I even know of churches with multiple-meeting weekends that use at least one of the weekend meetings as a dress rehearsal for the production team so they can time and edit the meeting to best fit into the remaining time slots- all of this time, energy, and resources to set up, stage and venue a form and a style of communication that at its best seems to produce so few lasting results.”

    I don’t think this is what the writers of Hebrews had in mind – but I know that it is so what I am used to that anything different feels very much outside my comfort zone, and sometimes feels “un-church”

  6. BrianD
    October 18, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    “I know that it is so what I am used to that anything different feels very much outside my comfort zone, and sometimes feels “un-church””

    That’s my feeling, too. Especially since the programmed service is very similar in structure to what I (and you, too) grew up with.

    I think because there is such a diversity of people in this world that there are a diversity of churches to minister to each of them, at least right now.

    I have no problem with structure…it’s sitting through a show, a program that I’m having increasing problems with.

    Thanks for the mention of the book…I’ll check it out.

  7. October 18, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    I am accustomed to seeing this verse used as an admonition to attend church regularly, but when I read it in context, I’m hard-pressed to see how it refers to the modern church, much less how it refers to regular church attendance. If I start reading after the part about how Jesus is our high priest, and all the other stuff that must have meant something to early Jewish believers but doesn’t mean much to me, I get this:

    22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

    I see this as

    1. Draw near to God
    2. Hold fast to the hope we already have
    3. Spur one another on toward love
    4. Spur one another on to good deeds
    5. Don’t give up meeting together
    6. Encourage one another

    In other words, the negative admonition to not give up getting together with other believers is just one of six admonitions, and the other five are positive. To be honest, if I could find a place that was characterized by the other five I don’t think I’d have any trouble with the sixth.

    It’s interesting that all six are focused on our relationship to God and our relationships to others, and none of them are focused on sitting and listening to doctrine and interpretation. I realize this is occasionally a bone of contention between groups within modern American Christianity: some say church is for worship, some say it should center on Word and sacrament, some say it should center on sound doctrine, but I don’t see any of those here explicitly. These are all about community.

    So in short: no, I don’t think is what the writer to the Hebrews was talking about.

    Maybe Paul addressed this a bit clearer somewhere.

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