Here are my real issues with the "assembling". My real issues are:
--people "assemble" and consider that to be Christian enough.
--people ignore the rest of Hebrews 10:25 which says to encourage one another. I don't think that sounds like one person talking to a group, ending in prayer, and calling it good church.
Granted, a lot of my dislike for assembling has come from attending the larger churches where the pastor is more of a teacher/administrative hybrid than a "pastor" or shepherd, and from what I can tell in scripture, those two things are separate. Where I grew up, the pastor was a shepherd. I could call him 24/7. He knew everyone in the community, and he served everyone in the community. Most of the pastors I've experienced since then, especially in larger churches, are aloof and separate from the congregation. So, I have developed a distaste for "assembling" because I think it is empty in many cases. NOT ALL, but many.
Having said that, I have to be fair. There are pastors who are PASTORS. Jason Duke at Ranchland Church is a pastor. Jason Danielson at Saddlecreek is a pastor. Marion Burgess is a pastor, and I know there are more out there who are. I just don't know them.
Now that I have explained my issue with "assembling," I need to amend my position on that. Too many people have said they totally agree with me. They don't attend church at all, and they don't miss it. Usually their complaint deals with the hypocrites in the church. I won't touch that here. Yes, I will. If you really cannot in any way tolerate hypocrites and must keep from polluting yourself with their presence, stop reading now and close this post. Refuse to read anymore. Because as much as I wish I were perfect and there were no hypocrisy in me, the fact is I am right on the front row of the 1st Church of "I'm a Christian Hypocrite". So if you need to avoid Christian hypocrites, I understand. Thank you for being here, but I understand you need to leave. Please pray for me. Seriously.
So, why it is important to assemble?
- It gives us a good place to hear God tell us how we are hypocrites. I'm not kidding. Where two or more are gathered in His name, God is with them, and when He is there, He is kind and corrects so we can move in deeper. That means He speaks to our hypocrisies.
- In a large assembling, the pastor may have understanding we don't. He may have studied a passage more and prayed about it more than we have, and he may have a perspective we have never considered, but might be exactly what we need to hear. We need to be teachable.
- Corporate worship can be amazing. Yes, I know. We left a church we love because the music was too loud, but I've had some amazing God moments in their worship. Corporate worship creates an amazing atmosphere that draws God into our presence.
- Discipline is good as a Christian. I know. So many Christians are so busy NOT being works oriented that they forget the basic disciplines of being a Christian, and assembling with others is a discipline.
- Small assemblies are where the personal stuff goes on. Yes, a teacher/pastor/minister can encourage from the pulpit, and the Holy Spirit certainly ministers in His way, but there is power in assembling with people who know your life, who encourage you in a personal issue, in your personal walk, and in your personal discipline.
- If an assembly is done right, it is a safe place. It is a refuge. It isn't a place where you are always told you are right because, frankly, sometimes you are wrong, but it is a safe place to learn how to be right and a place of encouragement while you change.
- Sometimes an assembly is the place where you realize you need to change, either because of something directly said to you by the pastor, Holy Spirit, or a person, or indirectly because you see the change in someone else' life, and you want that in yours.
- It's a place of learning.
In my last post, I told you about the different assembling WonderBoy and I did this weekend. We liked it. Relationships are valued there. Connecting with each other is important. The lesson was very personal for me. I thought serving one another the Lord's Supper or Eucharist was beautiful as a symbol of Christ as servant serving us. But it isn't for everyone. Friday morning I assembled with my friend Heather via phone for nearly 5 hours, and this morning I assembled with my friend Marza for about 2 hours. It was good. It was personal. Transparency can take place in that assembling that wouldn't happen in a bigger group. RCIA class was a great assembling. We learned a lot about living out faith, and we connected with people.
Assembling has a mysterious thing that happens in it. The Lord is dissipated through and assembly that focuses on Him and has a heart for Him. If you haven't found an assembling that works for you, keep looking. Be willing to look outside the box, but it is important that you are part of a spiritual family.
Honestly, never occurred to me I would ever attend Catholic church, but I enjoy mass a lot. I like the meditative part of it, and when Father Fred is there, He really CELEBRATES mass. We love that.
Never thought I would attend a Church of Christ, but the teaching was solid. You can certainly get to heaven on that food, and surpringly, I really liked the acapella music. Never thought I would visit a Presbyterian assembling, but we liked it. The Methodist assembly we attended with a friend was so rich and beautiful that we would make that our church if we weren't 2 hours away. I learned about Jesus in a Nazarene assembling, and I gave my life to Jesus in a Baptist assembling. My kids have learned about the Lord in non-denominational assemblings. And phone assembling is a great way to pour in Spirit power into the daily walk.
My point is the writer in Hebrews wasn't saying to assemble because it is a requirement as a Christian. Simply showing up doesn't make you a better Christian, but showing up, listening, and letting the Spirit use what is said to help you see what you might be missing is taking responsible for your spiritual well-being. Assembling isn't a requirement by God. It's an invitation to God.
The only right response is to accept the invitation.
Praying you find a good assembling....