Does the whole idea of church “services” contradict the fact that the church is “a people,” not an event?
We don’t think so…
- Some people object to defining the local church according to the three “marks” of the church identified by the Reformers: preaching, the ordinances, and church discipline. They say that the church is not an event or activity, but a people, who are Christ’s people all week, not just on Sundays. These writers are rightly responding to nominal Christianity and any form of Christianity that fails to inculcate a kingdom mindset among believers.
- But the problem with this argument is that elements of the weekly gathering constitute the local church as a local church on the pages of the New Testament. It’s the act of gathering together to hear God’s word and practice the ordinances which makes a church a church. By analogy, a basketball team doesn’t have to be together in order to be a team, but coming together to play basketball is what constitutes them as a team.
- What we call weekly “services” are commanded and exampled in the New Testament as that which constitutes the church as a church (e.g., 1 Cor. 11:18).
- The right preaching of the Word, guarded by a disciplined administration of the ordinances, will call believers to repent and obey everything that Christ commanded (Matt. 28:19), including the command to seek first his kingdom throughout the week (Matt. 6:33).