Why We Gather
Updated: May 4, 2021
Why We Gather
Written by Lawrence Yoo
When we gather together as a corporate body, we’re not just gathering together to sing a few songs and listen to a message. We’re actually practicing Heaven on earth. We are a covenant people and when we come together, we are reenacting what God’s covenant people did in the Old Testament when they met for the Qahal or the “great assembly” to hear from God, first in the tabernacle and, later, in the temple. We are also following the example of our New Testament brothers and sisters when they met as the Ekklesia (local church bodies) to read scripture, sing hymns, and practice the Lord’s supper.
When believers come together--whether in tents in the wilderness, at the temple, the sanctuary, or the parking lot--to praise God, we are mirroring the throne room of God where he is surrounded by heavenly beings crying out “holy, holy, holy.” In fact, the angels join with us as we worship!
We also gather as a church family to remind us that we are not alone. I need to hear your voices when I don’t have the voice to sing. When my heart struggles and I feel overwhelmed, but I hear your voices singing with passion, it gives me hope and encourages me to join in even when I don’t feel it. Just seeing your faces reminds me that I’m not alone and we’re in this together.
Another reason we gather together is because spiritual maturity is a group project. You might be aware of the Holy Spirit’s voice on a particular subject in a way that another believer is not and vice versa. We need each other for teaching, accountability, and encouragement. Many of the promises of God are for us to receive together. This is true for many of the callings of God, too. The task of building the kingdom is not for one person, but for us as a body with many different parts.
Our corporate worship is a command as well as a wonderful gift. Theologian Edmund Clowney says it this way, “Reverent corporate worship…is not optional for the church of God. It is not a form of group behavior to be accepted just because of its long tradition or its acceptability in many cultures. [i.e., this is not something we do because we’re supposed to in our Sunday routine!] Rather, [corporate worship] brings to expression the very being of the church. It manifests on earth the reality of the heavenly assembly.”
So, in response, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)