Mike Cosper’s book, Rhythms of Grace: How the Church’s Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel is proving to be a helpful book not just for pastor and worship leader, but also for all worshipers hoping to understand the role of our gatherings together. After taking time to look at various passages the who and why of church (Colossians 2:19-22; Ephesians 4:11-16; Hebrews 10:23-25), Cosper outlines the goal of our gathering.
These passages, taken together, show us a church that gathers in the midst of the world’s pressures, under the hopeful warning of Christ’s return, encouraging one another and building each other up through the presence of God’s Spirit by immersing itself in God’s Word, singing and proclaiming the gospel. The fruit of the gathering is not just a strong individual, but a strong church, united in faith.
In this sense, the gathering is unique not as an encounter with God (it is that, though God’s presence is a constantly available comfort and help to the Christian); rather it’s unique because it is an encounter with the people of God, filled with the Spirit of God, spurring one another along in the mission of God. Christ in me meets Christ in you.
It’s not just a family reunion, either. We gather because we have work to do—to remember the gospel and hold fast to our confession. The Greek word for the gathered church offers some insight into how the apostles saw their gatherings. Though the language offered a variety of options for words to describe the gathering church, the authors of the New Testament chose ekklēsia. According to scholar Larry Hurtado, it was an odd choice: “In its historic Greek usage, ekklesia designated the gathering of citizens of a city to conduct civic business. Such events always had a religious character and would be commenced with offerings to the gods, but the ekklesia was not precisely a gathering to conduct worship.”4
We gather because we have work to do. Ekklēsia emphasizes the work of the people. We gather to do our work, which is to say, we gather to remember, to encourage, and to spur one another on.”
Indeed. We gather “because we have work to do.” Remember, encourage, spur on!
Get a copy Cosper’s Rhythms of Grace: How the Church’s Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel . Well worth the read!