From the pastor’s pen: Gathered together
“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread…” (Acts 20:7)
The resurrection of Jesus on that incredible Passover Sunday almost 2000 years ago was indeed paradigm shifting, not only with regards to the disciples’ faith but to their spiritual practice. It’s because of Jesus’ resurrection that Christians have been gathering on Sundays for the past two millennia, “being devoted to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers” (Acts 2:42). Throughout the book of Acts, we often come across the phrase “They were all together in one place” and not just as a healthy practice but as an instruction, especially as we get closer and closer to “the last hour” and the return of Jesus – “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Heb. 10:25)
For there is something special, indeed something supernatural, about followers of Jesus coming together in prayer and worship under the sound of God’s Word and the presence of God’s Spirit, something that the enemy is terribly afraid of. For it is when we come together in oneness of heart, mind and purpose, that we tap into the full authority and power of Jesus.
The Bible tells us about a number of benefits of coming together, something that shouldn’t be seen institutionally but rather in an “organic” way, as the body of Christ also known as the Church.
Growth – Church is the incubator of faith and spiritual growth. Not only because of the teaching and spiritual training it provides, but because of rubbing shoulders with people who have been following Jesus for many years, who can provide advice, encouragement and guidance to others who seek to do the same.
Care – Church is also a place where we “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ”, a place to be vulnerable, a place to both offer and receive help and support from one another, a place where we laugh together abut also cry together.
Protection – Church is also a place where we each have the other’s back, where we look out for one another and love one another enough to strengthen and even correct one another in light of Scripture.
Authority – The word “Church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which describes a governmental institution, a place of authority where decisions were made concerning a town, city or region (like mini parliaments). In the same way, Jesus instituted his Church to exercise his power and authority over their communities as Kingdom of God on earth.
Over the centuries, Churches have forgotten about their identity as a place of divine power and authority over their communities, progressively becoming places focussed entirely on pastoral care – something that the Holy Spirit is finally reversing by a restoration of the Apostolic mandate and identity. However, such ekklesia power and authority can only be exercised when its members come together. It is when the “two or three” come together in agreement and in Jesus’ name that they can exercise such authority – an authority that the enemy simply cannot withstand. This is why the enemy is primarily at work to keep “the kingdom” divided. For a divided kingdom cannot stand against him.
This demonic work of separation and division is not only taking place among Churches, but among individual Christians as well. Quite recently, I have come across a couple of people that “reclaimed” their Sundays and separated from Church for no apparent reason, justifying their decision by simply saying “Going to Church is not what makes one a Christian”. Whereas that is true, it is only a half truth. And half truths are the mother tongue of Satan! For even though going to Church doesn’t make one a Christian (in the same way as living in a garage doesn’t make me a car!), it is also true that Christians go to Church! Not as an institutional obligation, but as the members of the spiritual body that they have become part of and for all the reasons listed above. There is no such thing as a “solo” Christian. Jesus has come to find the lost and gather them together into one flock, resting under the roof of one fold. His people listen to his voice and follow him. The enemy, on the other hand, “comes to kill, to steal and to destroy”, the end result of a tactic that begins with isolation. For wolves don’t just attack flocks, for they fear the shepherd. They simply run across it to cause confusion and to push the careless sheep to isolate themselves from the flock and the protection of the Shepherd. Only then they attack. So it is at a spiritual level.
If you are considering “going solo” or even neglecting the coming together of God’s people, think again! The enemy may be bewitching you (Galatians 3:1), for he knows that when we are together we become an unstoppable force against him. Don’t give in to the lie, don’t let the enemy disarm and confuse you. We weren’t born again to go it alone, but to become part of something much greater than we are – the unstoppable Kingdom of Christ: “On this rock I will build my ekklesia, and the gates of hell will not stand against it”
Throughout the month of August, things will be slowing down a bit as people will be going and coming to and from holiday. Here is how our weekly schedule will change during this month:
Wednesday outreach – instead of the above, we will be meeting every Wednesday at 7pm at The Hub in Shadsworth (Rothesay Rd, Blackburn BB1 2ES) to pray over the estate and invite people to the launch of our first campus on Sunday 22nd of September at 4pm.
Please, put these dates in your calendar. You can also find them on ChurchSuite.
This month marks the end of Emmanuel’s internship. We will however see a lot more of him! As of September, he will stay on in the capacity of Assistant Minister – with a particular focus on pastoral care. His employment will not only be part of a series of steps to accommodate further growth and the birth of our first campus in Shadsworth, but an opportunity for Emmanuel to continue to grow ministerially. The goal is to see him fully trained and ordained in 4 to 5 years’ time, ready to be released wherever God wants him to be.
For the first year, he will be working on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. In September there will be a proper induction at Church.
Land Lubbers kids holiday club!
Kids between 4 and 11 years old are invited to “Land Lubbers”, a kids holiday club running from Monday 12th to Thursday 15th between 1pm and 4pm at our Church. The club is a great opportunity for fun, games, challenges and prizes as well as to learn about Jesus, joining a crew of pirates as they seek to reform their ways!
There will also be a special award ceremony at our Sunday family service on the 18th of August, followed by food and fellowship!
For more info, please see Caroline. Please sign up your child through ChurchSuite or on our Church's FB page.