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Thursday
Dec092010

Meetings

This week, as I have sat across the table from various saints, I have been struck by how much churchlife takes place in simple conversations that are open to the Lord's direction.

Monday evening, we had a couple of families over for dinner. When the food was ready and the table was set, I was amazed to see all of these men, women, and children crowding around the table waiting to pray together. It just felt like family. 

As the evening progressed, I asked a simple question about what people's hopes were for our church. Someone shared some thoughts (that had obviously been on her heart for a while) about how to best spiritually care for the adults and the kids and meet their different needs. This led to a conversation about meetings.

My thinking about meetings has evolved over the years. When I first began meeting in homes, I was so excited about the churchlife that happens outside of meetings (in our daily lives) that I almost took a pejorative view of meetings. In fact, I used to say that meetings should only be 10% of churchlife. I've changed my mind since then. I now think that meetings are closer to 50% of churchlife, and what happens in the daily lives of saints is the other (very important and often missed) half.

My point is this: I am frustrated with how traditional churchlife in America has become focused on putting on a Sunday morning and Wednesday night show. The building is called the "church," and people tend to feel adequate if they come to the building two times a week and then drive to their suburbs and live their individual lives.

The problem is not that such a format is "wrong." The problem is that such a format misses God's purpose for humanity. He calls us to be His Building. He calls us to be His family. And that is a lifelong, daily investment into the lives of others. This is what is recorded in the New Testament. This is churchlife - Christ as the bond between men, women, and children as they live life together in fellowship with the Father.

But meetings play such an important role, even more so than I have credited them in the past. Meetings, as I define them, are an opportunity for larger numbers of saints to come together and learn Jesus and express Jesus. There has to be some structure. As one saint commented at the dinner table Monday: "Meetings do not work when we do not understand the purpose of the meeting." 

Jesus is alive and spontaneous. If we leave Him out, we will soon find ourselves in a lifeless rut. But Jesus is also someone with common sense and who cares for the needs of others. Jesus cares about the structure, details, and logistics of churchlife.

Right now, we have found ourselves with several "types" of meetings: singing songs of worship, praying together, in-depth teaching, eating with other saints who are literally randomly drawn out of a hat, whole church meetings, and small group meetings. Sometimes I wonder if this is too much, too complicated. But overall, I think these meetings have arisen out of following Jesus with the wisdom He has given us over a number of years of churchlife.

I also find that different saints gravitate toward the two sides of churchlife. Some know it is really important to participate in the meetings, but do not do the work (and it can be a lot of work) to connect to saints throughout the week. Others love to connect with saints over the dinner table, but have a harder time seeing the importance of the meetings. 

Both are vital. Both must be about Jesus and what He wants to do and say and not about our best thoughts, emotions, and deeds apart from Him.

And we need encouragement to give our all to both - that Christ may be expressed in us and to us.

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