SACRED ASSEMBLY

the church

Sacred Assembly Booklet

the POINT

In September, 2011, we set out with a ragtag group of people to start Communion Church. This was the not the beginning of the journey, but things change once you actually begin to turn an idea into a reality. When it comes to church that is especially true. Our culture, and I mean Christian culture, has a love/hate relationship with the church. We love it until we hate it. We pour massive amounts of time and energy into it, but often are disillusioned when it does not turn out the way that we had hoped or planned.

This sermon series is an attempt to get the people of Communion Church on common ground as to WHO WE ARE as a local expression of God’s family, as well as WHY WE DO the things that we do as a church. Defining the church (also known as ecclesiology) has been a source of conflict in the church. But this does not mean that it is something to be avoided.

Our inclination is to take some of Jesus’ commands and to build our own ideas around them as support. To create a new kind of church that responds and relates to the changing needs of our culture. To use our own ideas to replace the outdated traditionalism that has made many churches ‘dead.’ We need to get our idea of church from He who church was created by and for. We will take the next five weeks to dig into Scripture; to replace our notions of church with the definition afforded us
by God.

Prepare to be challenged.
Prepare to be confused.
Prepare to see the church in a new way.
Prepare to love the church more than you ever have before.


the TITLE

SACRED

The series title, ‘Sacred Assembly’ represents an attitude we’d like to recapture in our people. The word ‘Sacred’ can mean a great many things. That which is ‘Sacred’ is often contrasted against that which is ‘Secular’. Narrowly defined, sacredness has caused many in history to venerate books, music, and other objects dedicated to a deity or intended for a religious purpose. Taken to the broadest of irreligious definitions, the term sacred can describe anything someone reveres (in truth or jest) from memories, restaurants, or even days of the week. Our hope is to redeem this word and recapture its original meaning relative to our gathering as the church.

You’ve probably heard it asked, “Is there nothing sacred anymore?” Usually this comes in response to hearing coworkers vomit out profanity, watching Hollywood make movies about topics once taboo, or seeing young adults “looking like fools with their pants on the ground”. When speaking of the church, the use of the term ‘Sacred’ has less to do with what we might see or even do as an organization, and more about an attitude we should be holding—which invariably impacts what we do. The term sacred comes from the word ‘Sacred’ meaning ‘to consecrate’ or, in biblical terms, to set apart as Holy and special for God. In other words, our gatherings are more than just compulsory get-togethers where kids are babysat, songs are sung, a guy yells for 45 minutes, and we eat a meal that would leave a mouse famished.

Viewing a church gathering as a consecrated corporate spiritual experience is foreign to our culture of consumerism. My fear is that we approach our Sunday morning worship with a pragmatic spirit as opposed to seeking to worship God by the power and in the presence of the Holy Spirit. This series is not a call for more charismata but a reformation of our view of our time of worship on Sunday.


ASSEMBLY

The word ‘church’ in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word ‘ekklesia’ which comes from two words ‘ek’ meaning ‘out’ and ‘kaleo’ meaning to ‘call.’ An ekklesia or ‘calling out’ is a unique kind of assembly. The word ekklesia was a political term, not a religious one. In classical Greek ‘ekklesia’ meant “an assembly of citizens summoned by the crier, the legislative assembly. Relative to Jesus and His Church, it is an intentional, organized gathering of God’s people, assembled for specific purposes—in this case worship of the King to whom we declare our allegiance.

But the church isn’t called an ‘assembly’ simply because they gather together. When Jesus speaks of the church, He uses a term that is rich with Old Testament meaning. In Exodus, God assembled Israel before Him at Mount Sinai to make his covenant with them (Ex. 19). The Exodus redemption from Egypt culminates at this moment as Israel is identified as an assembly because they gather in the presence of God (Deut. 4.10; 9.10; 10.4; 18.16). Later Israel regularly assembles, always remembering the ‘great assembly’ of Sinai. Three times a year Israel assembled for the 3 feasts of the sacred calendar (Lev. 23) and the prophets described the future and complete blessing of God’s presence in a great assembly which included Gentiles (Isaiah 2.2-4; 56/6-8; Joel 2.15-17). To worship in that assembly is to gather in God’s ‘ekklesia’. Just as Israel before us, our assemblies are unique gatherings in the presence of God. Sadly, today the Sunday morning assembly is at the center of conflict.

Many well meaning believers argue that not only does the church not need order, but that it does not need regular worship services. They condemn the church for its performance-driven experiences full of passive spectators and an inspired, but irrelevant lecture. Their new mantras are things like, “We need to stop going to church and start being the church.” It’s not that they don’t think we need worship, rather, they believe that it is never an event but “a lifestyle”. In their pursuit of a more ‘genuine’ worship experience, they create communities of all shapes and sizes unified by their belief that, regardless of form, “wherever two are gathered” God is there. More than that, they claim that not only that God is uniquely present, but His church is made manifest.

While there is some truth in their criticisms, their responses are often unbiblical. Without question, the church is more than a worship service BUT, the worship services, the gatherings, the corporate assembly is essential to the very identity and life of the church. Our hope is not to argue against every ‘new’ model of church being offered, or answer  every critique of every author who thinks they know the disease and antidote. What we want is to recapture a deeper and wider vision for  what we do on Sunday morning. Our hope is that all who attend  Communion Church will realize that we are doing more than coming  together to sing songs and hear someone talk.

Our assembly is a sacred experience where, as one body, one people, and one family, we publicly celebrate our shared identity in the one God’s covenant with us through the life, death, resurrection, and return of the Lord Jesus Christ.


the Church  Assembly | Text
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the Doctrine  Authority | Text
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the Leaders  Eldership | Text
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the Covenant  Agreement | Text
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the Sacraments  Signs/Seals | Text