so what is the point?

in a post a couple of weeks ago, i referenced a quote from an interview with reggie mcneal and i have been ruminating on it ever since.  it seems to me like there is something significant here, perhaps just beneath the surface, and i thought it might be beneficial (and maybe even entertaining) to bring it to you, my blogosphere buddies, for dialogue.  here is the quote (from an article entitled “engaging the church in god’s redemptive mission”; enrichment journal volume fifteen, number one):

I am not saying the gathered church is irrelevant or should not happen. But we have made the gathering the point. The gathering was not supposed to be the point. The gathering was supposed to celebrate how God was showing up in our lives away from church.

Instead, we have shrink-wrapped our notion of what God is doing in the world by assessing the health of the gathering. Did the worship go well? How many showed up? Did the choir get their stuff done? Did the band do well? Was the PowerPoint good? Was the sermon good? We act as if these things have an impact on the health of the Kingdom and God’s activity in the world.

We have done this for so long it feels normal.

i have two questions (and then we’ll let the conversation go wherever it wants to go)…

1.  what is mcneal trying to communicate?

2.  if “the gathering” is not the point, what is?

on your mark, get set, go!


4 thoughts on “so what is the point?

  1. I see the gathering as an opportunity for believers to collectively lay their worship at God’s feet — that worship being their obedient lives. So we come together to celebrate what God has been doing in us, and in our community through us. And we celebrate this together, and encourage one another in the process of becoming more worshipful and obedient in our lives. Spiritual gifts are used to build up one another and, more importantly, the body as a whole.

    I don’t think I can say that’s what McNeal is trying to communicate, but it may not be far from his starting point. I guess he goes on to bemoan the fact that we waste a lot of time assessing how “good” these Sunday meetings are. When in reality, they can only be as “good” as the believers present have been during the week. Worship is about living life the way God intends. And we’ve made it about songs and teachings. We’re not far at all from the Jews who were over and over again scolded by OT prophets.

  2. The church, like Israel before us, is the visible Body of Believers through which God demonstrates His Kindness, Wisdom & Grace. Per Ephesians 2:7, not only now but we will forever be the recipients of His acts of lovingkindness. I owe this next insight to John Piper but it is worth repeating in this context. The Church’s purpose every day is to show the world that we value God, His salvation in Christ, and His commandments more than ANYTHING else. We are to be thankful and deeply praise our God not only when we enjoy a promotion or end to an illness, but even when calamaties strike us. The Church’s glory is to rejoice in AND loudly proclaim the Infinite Goodness, Infinite Wisdom, and Infinite Power of God in Christ before a watching world. Sundays optional.

  3. I have determined that the big meetings today are all about people power. “Let’s end hunger!” OK how do we do it?? Everybody give money. We can do anything.

    Therein is the problem.

  4. I heard Reggie at Catalyst in 2008. He was one of my favorite speakers.

    Without the entire context of the quote you published above, I cannot answer for the author’s motivation. That being said, in my interpretation, I agree with it.

    There appears to be a large in-focus of the American church – that Christianity is defined by what we do when we get together for that weekly meeting.

    The point of Christianity is not the weekly meeting it is the kingdom bringing that ever discipling followers are focused on during every day of the week. Of course, it is important for the body to gather to be rejuvenated. We cannot survive alone.

    If I were to use an analogy it would be of my own life. The point of my life is not to eat but it is beneficial and necessary for me to do so if I hope to carry out the point of my life.

    A church body’s purpose is not to meet but to fulfill the will of God but it is beneficial and necessary for them to gather in order to remain healthy.

    My 2 cents.

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