by Robert Brow (www.brow.on.ca) Kingston, Ontario April 2008

We no longer believe that those who do not attend church are in danger
of hell fire. And in fact there is very little in the New Testament
that makes churchgoing into a duty. An exception is "Let us consider
how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to
meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another"
(Hebrews 10:24-25). What we do find is a rich variety of pictures
which taken together give the logic of taking part in one of the
congregations which make up the church in our city.

SCHOOL Jesus ran a mobile school for teaching the basics of his
Kingdom. The twelve disciples were the first teachers. In a city like
Kingston there are dozens of congregations where one can learn the
faith. But if the learners quit once they understand what the school
is about, who will do the teaching and coaching?

KINGDOM Jesus gave a huge amount of teaching about the Kingdom of God
(or of Heaven). Those who became disciples were also invited to serve
in Jesus' Kingdom. But the Kingdom is not made up of lone members.
There are hundreds of tasks to be undertaken, and all of them need the
cooperation of others.

HOSPITAL Jesus said "Those who are well have no need of a physician,
but those who are sick (Matthew 9:12). A church congregation is like a
hospital or medical center. Every week it introduces those with
spiritual needs to Jesus the healer. But this cannot take place
effectively without the help of the healthy people who can help with
the nursing and other medical services.

MISSION Jesus gave the commission "Go therefore and make disciples of
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I
have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20). But mission cannot be done
alone. It needs those who go, those who support with finances, and
those who pray.

WARFARE Paul faced much opposition in his work, but he relied on the
support of others. He pictured himself in a cosmic battle. "Put on the
whole armor of God . . . For our struggle is not against enemies of
blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the cosmic powers of this present darkness" (Ephesians
6:11-12). He invited the Christians to join in this battle and put on
the armor that was needed.

FAMILY Jesus pointed to the disciples and said, "Here are my mother
and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is
my brother and sister and mother" (Matthew 12:49-50). In a city the
best church congregations make us feel part of a family.

EATING . At the last supper "While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf
of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples,
and said, 'Take, eat; this is my body.' Then he took a cup, and after
giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you;
for this is my blood of the covenant' (Matthew 26:26-28). And in four
of the resurrection appearances Jesus made a point of eating with his
disciples. Eating together seems to be an essential part of church

PRAYER It is often necessary to pray alone, but the first Christians
"Devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the
breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42; see 4:31).

SINGING "Be filled with the Spirt, as you sing psalms and hymns and
spiritual songs among yourselves" (Ephesians 5:18-19). It is hard to
picture a live church congregation where there is no singing.

WORSHIP In the Old Testament Jews used the Psalms to express their
worship. Christian worship is now greatly enriched as it focuses on
the birth, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and world-wide reign
of the Messiah.

Having set out this list of typical church activities, it is obvious
that solitary Christians cannot engage in any of these facets of a
healthy relationship with Jesus the Messiah.

Robert Brow

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