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Are Your Church Gatherings Getting the Job Done?

What happens when your church gathers for worship? It seems that most churches have a few basics that go into each Sunday morning. Usually it includes a few songs, announcements, some prayer time a sermon and another song or two.

Many churches understand that it is important  not to neglect the meeting together (Heb 10:24). However, far too many churches fail to strategically plan what they do and, more importantly, why they do it!


What makes a great gathering?

The picture above is of one of my all time favorite church gatherings. It was a baptismal celebration for the church in the village of Sahanskoe.

They held the baptism at a small lake near their village. Afterwards the church and guests gathered for worship, communion and then to share a meal!

It was simple, it was enjoyable, it was encouraging and most importantly God was glorified!

What did the first church do when it gathered?

The early church didn’t leave behind any bulletins or orders of service but we do have some great clues right from the book of Acts.

Check out this passage.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Act 2:42-47

Here are just a few things we can see happening during the gatherings of the first church.

  • They learned God’s word together
  • They enjoyed each other’s fellowship
  • They shared meals together
  • They prayed together
  • They gave to the needy
  • They met regularly
  • They met in public places (the temple)
  • They met in private places (their homes)
  • Their meetings were typically joyful and glad
  • They praised God


Author Frank Viola has done a lot of work and writing on the early church.

While I don’t agree with all of his application I have found his books helpful in understanding how the early church approached gathers and what it might have been like to be at an early church gathering.

It would be worth your while to read Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity if you do read it, let me know what you think.

Question: Do your church meetings accomplish the things listed above? What does your church do well when it gathers? What areas need strengthening in your church?


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I am a pastor, missionary, and preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Ukraine since 2007. God blessed me with a wonderful wife and 5 amazing children! My greatest passion is to teach, encourage, and exhort others to turn to Jesus, who is Savior, Lord, and God!

  • Are our church gatherings accomplishing the above list? We definitely learn God’s Word together, we enjoy each other’s company but fellowship with more actual connecting could be done, we like to eat together except I don’t enjoy them much since I can’t eat most of what’s there, we always pray together, we’re focused on giving to the needy, we meet regularly in public places but need to work more on meeting more in private places and not in cliques. Our meetings typically are joyful and glad, and some members are good at praising God. Definitely see some strengths & weaknesses for my church. But what came to the top of my thoughts as I wrote this comment is that I need to set the example of what a church body needs to have, which means I need to perhaps consider what I can do in the weak areas.

    • Kari, I like that you are taking responsibility. Too many people blame the church for everything that’s wrong and fail to understand that they are the church and if something is wrong you and I need to be the ones to set the standard.

      • Wish we could talk face-to-face on this one. There are many stories & experiences that go together to show how God shaped my perspective in this way. Maybe I need to write about it. It’s a passion of mine that shows up often when teaching & talking to others. Need to keep humble here though. Interesting that pride rises up, don’t you think?

        • You should write about it. I would definitely be interested to read your thoughts and interact with you! I agree, some face-to-face is best but for now we’ll have to settle on online communication. Actually you’re kind of getting onto my topic for this weekend’s podcast about whether or not social media is killing the church.

          Stay humble and keep writing Kari!

          • I’ve started some notes based on our discussion here, and I think I’ll pursue the thoughts further a bit later today. Looking forward to your podcast! Humbleness… always working on that one!

  • I’m afraid we miss some of the time spent with others… working on it! My toes are getting sore! Good one, Caleb.

    • Sorry about the sore toes Floyd! God’s Word has a tendency to do that to me sometimes too!

  • Our church has the 4 criteria listed in verse 42 although we take ‘breaking of bread” as taking part in the Lord’s Supper (Communion). We observe it every week. But like many of those things on the list, it can be taken for granted. We have moments where we meet most of those criteria and other moments where we lose focus.

    • Bill, think breaking of the bread is both the symbolic act of partaking in communion, however, I do believe there was a more literal breaking of bread in homes with families as part of the fellowship of the early church. Of course not everything has to be done officially in the church building to count as a church gathering.

  • Our Young Adults Ministry is built around that scripture.

    All churches have strengths and weaknesses…it’s good to assess all aspects from time to time so that we can mature and grow in Christ.

    • Sometimes there can be a group in the church that does a better job and accomplishing these things than other groups. Assessing how the church is doing is vital. If it’s never done the tendency will always be away from Scripture.

  • Great thoughts here Caleb. But I’m curious: why did you fail to mention fog machines and prize give-aways? (Jokes.) 🙂 I like your list and appreciate the reminder.

    • No fog machines but there were earthquakes, no prize give-aways, but everyone seemed to be giving things to the needy. Thanks for humor Stephen!

  • I was just talking with a friend the other day about the class he is hosting in his home. They get together and have dinner every week before having a bible lesson. He said it’s made such a huge impact on their fellowship, which in turn affects nearly everything else. I thought that sounded so awesome.
    As I think about my own class, we meet on Sunday mornings at my church – so eating a meal isn’t really practical. But we do try to get together regularly for fellowships. I think we’re pretty decent at doing the above list, although there might be a few areas we could benefit from emphasizing more. Particularly, I think we could serve more and give to the needy. That tends to be a church-wide thing and not really a class-wide thing, but I think it would be pretty cool to do it as a class.

    • Good ideas Loren. I think giving to a need as a class may help bring it home to people on a more individual level. Church wide is also good but if it’s a large church then sometimes people don’t feel that individual connection.