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What are We Supposed to Do When We Gather? by Traver Dougherty

When it comes to organic church life, one of the questions I constantly get is, "What are we supposed to do when we gather?" Although I think that's a good question, one that 1 Corinthians 14 addresses nicely, I don't think it's nearly as good of a question as "How are we supposed to be when we come together?"

All too often, in this consumer culture of ours, we look to get something out of a gathering. To this end, we ask ourselves as we seek to maximize our seemingly-valuable time, "What's the take away value?" Although this particular mode of thinking is very American, it's not very Christian.

Here's the better question: "What added value do I bring to the gathering?"

Well, whatever your answer to that question, we'd all be wise to keep one 'value-added' at the top of the list: love.

According to the New Testament, people in the church need to:

  • Love one another (Jn 13:34)
  • Be devoted to one another and give preference to one another (Rm 12:10)
  • Be of the same mind with one another (Rm 15:17)
  • Accept one another (Rm 15:17)
  • Wait for one another before eating (1 Cor 11:33)
  • Care for one another (1 Cor 12:25)
  • Greet one another with a holy kiss (2 Cor 13:12)
  • Bear one another's burdens (Gal 6:2)
  • Tolerate one another (Eph 4:2)
  • Be kind to one another and forgive each other (Eph 4:32)
  • Speak to one another is psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Eph 5:19)
  • Submit to one another (Eph 5:21)
  • Regard one another as more important than oneself (Phil 2:33)
  • Share God's message and admonish one another (Col 3:16)
  • Comfort one another (1 Thess 4:18)
  • Encourage and build up one another (1 Thess 5:11)
  • Live in peace with one another (1 Thess 5:13)
  • Confess sins to one another and pray for one another (Jms 5:16)
  • Be hospitable to one another (1 Pet  4:9)
  • Serve one another (1 Pet 4:10)
  • Fellowship with one another (1 Jn 1:7)
  • And yes, gather together (Heb 10:25), but not in the form of a worship service but rather in such a way that we can challenge one another to love and good deeds (v24). In other words, to live out together all the other mandates given above (from Organic Leadership 2009:65, 66).

One of the things I've really admired about those in my community of faith is their absolute commitment to all the 'one anothers' listed above, including the tougher ones like "tolerate one another."

In my past church experiences, when the going got tough, the so-called tough got going...to the church down the street. Those in my community, however, won't have it. Call it maturity. Call it the Spirit. Call it stubborn love. I call it peculiar. Although they've all had plenty of reason, humanly speaking, to check out and move on, these people stick because of their undying commitment to the 'one anothers'.

Why do they stay? And why do they keep in constant contact with one another (phone, facebook, and email)? I think I know the answer. We're family. And leaving is not an option. Yes, we'll leave to multiply churches because that's what people on a mission do, but we won't leave one another for selfish reasons because leaving isn't loving. Come to think of it, the whole thing is quite Godlike. "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Heb 13:5).

When I was growing up my mom and dad often reminded me (still do) that we Christians are to be "a peculiar people" (1 Pet 2:9): as in don't fit in, different than the world. And frankly, because Mom and Dad drilled the peculiar thing into my head, all my life I've been looking for a group of people to be peculiar with. Praise the Lord! It's happened!

Our Lord has called us to be a peculiar people, has he not? And as a demonstration of this peculiar-ness, God has given us a laundry list of 'one anothers' that, if practiced, bring about a clear division (in a good way) between the body of Christ and the rest of the world. This, by the way, is our testimony. "By this," said Jesus, "all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (Jn 13:35).

From Traver's Helpful TidBits for Organic Church Life Feb 9, 2009

See also the article: Why Organic Church has the Edge on Outreach by Neil Cole

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