Day 15-Meeting Together

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When God created man He said it wasn’t good for him to be alone.  And so it isn’t still, we are made for fellowship. In the book Anatomy of the Soul Curt Thompson asserts that we are made for connection or attachment.

The neuroscience is clear: the concept of a single functioning neuron or a single functioning brain simply does not exist in nature. Without inpout from other neurons, a single neuron will die. Likewise, without input from other minds, a single mind becomes anxious, then depressed, then hopeless and then dies, either by intentional means (suicide) or more passive forms of poor self-care. It is not good for a man or a woman -or a neuron or a brain- to be alone.

He goes on to explain how from birth we are searching for attachment and some develop healthy attachment patterns and some don’t depending on our upbringing and our parents attachment style.  This has far reaching affects into adulthood and our relationships with God and others. This has been a fascinating book and gives support to the idea that we need one another.

I’ve been laboring over this post for a day now and was trying to balance what I’ve experienced, and what I practice now with what I interpret to be biblical practices for Christians. What I practice has changed over the years as I’ve changed.  Early in my Christian walk I was hungry for Christian fellowship, I wanted to share life and learn how to be a better Christian. I stumbled through relationships but was eager to serve in the church and I did.  We were taught that being part of a local church was the essence of living out the Christian life.

Since our church split 3 years ago I’ve been reevaluating what that church taught was necessary for what they called biblical fellowship. There were a lot of implied non-negotiables.  Sunday morning church attendance, small group attendance and proper confession and repentance. Even though we preached against legalism there was a subtle form of it.

I have come to realize more and more that so many North American Christian practices are based on tradition.  There are New Testament models from scripture but even these are traditional practices not commandments.  The only non-negotiable is love.

I have even had to re-evaluate love though.  Love can be perverted, and it sometimes was in the church we once attended. In the name of love people were shamed, in the name of love tradition was made law, in the name of love character flaws were nit picked.  It wasn’t all bad though, we had some sweet times too, but there was enough of the perversion that I’ve had to step back and look again at what love is. At what love for God and love for others looks like.

Meeting together  is a way to express our love of God through corporate worship.  Meeting together is a way to encourage and love one another. This is the go-to passage that every Christian who has fallen away from church or small group attendance has been admonished with:

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 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. Hebrew 10:19-25

Meeting together should be to encourage one another. Love one another.

Where and when and how often we meet together though is not prescribed.  It’s not something you can require of church members. Different people will have different needs in different seasons of their lives for meeting together. It’s true we can’t live our Christian life apart from others. We need one another to spur each other on, to teach and admonish one another. God is not limited though to a small group meeting on a certain night of the week. He works through my family,  the friend I run into in the grocery store,  the ladies I meet for coffee occasionally and even my facebook friends who I “see” everyday.  I’m surrounded by Christians to spur me on and I have friends I can call or email when needed.

There will never be a season I don’t need others, but there may be times I pull back from or don’t attend the more formal meetings.

What does meeting together look like for you? Do you like formal small group meetings around a theme, or more casual meetings?

 

 

 

 

 

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16 thoughts on “Day 15-Meeting Together

  1. I am of mixed feelings – there are times where I love the formal services and meetings b/c I like knowing what comes next – I find comfort in being able to slide into the familiar and worship “in a crowd” kind of anonymously. Small groups – can sometimes be uncomfortable for me. I feel on the spot – although I’ve been in a few that have been great, so I guess it depends on the makeup of the group. I think I just need different things at different times from a gathering… 🙂

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    1. I know exactly how you feel Julie, everyone is different and is encouraged indifferent ways. That’s why we can’t prescribe one way for everyone. And you need to have people around you that you feel safe with.

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  2. We certainly shouldn’t treat fellowship as an obligation…though it seems like many churches do. It should be a joy, something we seek out, and something we need during the different seasons of our lives!

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    1. yes! I’ve had seasons I’ve needed it and wanted it and sought it out. But I’m in a season now where I don’t need to be so intentional. I just naturally have people in my life that I enjoy being with and sharing life with. thanks for stopping by Jen. 🙂

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  3. What an interesting blog post! Thank you for writing it and sharing it! My husband is a pastor and we live and breathe church life much of the time, so obviously that gives me one sort of perspective…I’m so sorry to hear of your church split and the pain you have experienced. We do so much in the name of Jesus that was never meant to be done! I’ve always said the devil works the hardest in churches. After all, why work hard out in the world — he already has dominian there. It’s within the church that he really has to do his dirty work. I love being at church, I love worship, small groups, large groups. My kids love it too. I do think we should come to church not just for ourselves but for the church as a whole. WE need you. Each person has unique gifts they offer to the body of Christ. Yes, you are offering them wherever you go (like in writing this post, thank you.) But specifically I believe when we come together as a church we are able to do more work to His glory, together. I do believe God directs us in the Bible to worship together, take communion together. It doesn’t say how often but I would want to do that as often as possible. It’s not a “should,” it is a “want to.” But I’m human…there are all types of things that sometimes I have to keep doing out of habit, because they are good for me…exercise, brush my teeth, work…I don’t mean to minimize, but if I waited until I wanted to do those things, I would be so hit or miss. There are times I honestly do not feel like going to worship, but then when I am there something in the service — God speaks to me directly and I’m thankful I went.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Sara and sharing your perspective. Believe me we lived and breathed church life for 13 or more years. I used my gifts served at church and rarely missed a Sunday or a small group. My kids loved church, and we were all heart broken when things didn’t go well and we needed to leave our church. We are still serving at church and attending every Sunday. Our church though is super small and we don’t have a building. I know I need corporate worship and like you sometimes I don’t want to go but always am glad i did. I just don’t feel like people should be condemned if they choose a different way, or don’t attend small groups or don’t pour out their whole life and their every spare moment for church. There are times when other things take precedence, that doesn’t mean God is taking a back seat or that I’m just being selfish, it’s just where God might have me for the time being. building one another up and encouraging one another in the faith is important but it doesn’t always happen in the confines of a church building, a Sunday morning, or a church sanctioned event. It happens in everyday life.

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      1. I totally hear what you are saying and I TOTALLY agree that no person should pour their whole selves into the church. A couple years ago our larger church that normally has 2 pastors only had 1 and my husband and I found ourselves doing too much trying to cover the gaps. We made a lot of mistakes during that time and are still recovering. We have learned a lot from that experience about taking better care of ourselves, so that we can in turn serve better in the long run. And I do also hear what you are saying about condemning — we as Christians sit in judgement of each other way too much when it’s not our place or really, just not necessary — there are such better things we can be doing with our time and energy. Overall I try not to let it get to me though. I have been in the church and working with the church a long time and I could have a lot of resentment built up for the bad, but instead I’m so thankful for the good. We have been mightily blessed, cared for, loved, served…a thousand times over. I am humbled and awed by the good I have seen. I choose to see the negatives as a smaller piece of the picture.

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      2. bless you I know having an up front seat as you do can be seriously draining and tempting. I checked out your blog love it. you have a beautiful family. thanks for conversing with me on this topic .pastors are certainly under appreciated and overworked im many cases, and pastors wives carry a large part of the burden as well.

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  4. Hi Martha, it is a sunday morning and I am reading this beautiful heartfelt post with tears because I am hungry for ‘fellowship’. Even though, during 30 years of full-time vocational ministry, we sometimes made fun of the word. I took it for granted I think. Growing up in the church-world, I always had friends with the same desires and goals as I.

    You are so right, we do need others, a circle of people no matter how large or small, we need a tribe. After a life of pastoring in every conceivable position, my husband and I have not been in a church for 2 yrs now. Feels so odd and yet so fine. We are living in a new town, new state and far from our old friends. Being on a church staff for so many years gave us close friends who we loved and worked with every single day. When the ministry position is gone and we all moved to different places I have been surprised at how hard it is to start over in a new place.

    So here I sit on a sunday morning, listening to worship music and reading blogs. Thank you for your words Martha. I know that God will help me find some local connections in spite of my introversion. Ha! Together we will find a way! In the meantime, I will keep reading your encouraging words. Blessings, Susie

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    1. Oh Dear Susie, i pray (really am praying, lifting you up right now to God) you find some people to have community and fellowship with. I’m fortunate that we’ve lived where we have for over 10 years so I’ve built relationships in and out of our church. But I remember what it’s like to be the new person and an introvert, though I think I may have been a little more extroverted in the past.
      Thanks for reading and commenting

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  5. I agree we have so many traditions and call them God’s commands. I think when we get to Heaven we’ll all be surprised at all we didn’t understand and thought we knew for sure! God is Bigger than our traditions. Thank you for sharing this topic.

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  6. Yes! Especially: “I have even had to re-evaluate love though. Love can be perverted, and it sometimes was in the church we once attended.”

    So, so true. I love how you’ve come to rethink things based on experience – and what you know about yourself. I often feel bad not to be involved in a small group – especially when I work at the church I attend – but as an introvert, another evening a week requiring attendance can feel overwhelming. Give me the freedom to create the community authentically and if it becomes an evening thing every week, at least I’ll have found it valuable before trying to make it that way.

    Thank you for sharing your blog post with me!

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