We recently started meeting with a group of like-minded believers on Sunday afternoons for fellowship, prayer, Bible study, and worship. This has led many to ask us, “Are you starting a church?” Our answer is “No,” not because of a lack of appreciation for the traditional church. We have served in churches for over 40 years. But in our culture, the word “church” is associated with buildings, denominations, programs, Sunday morning services, and other traditions which can be helpful in making disciples, but these are not the focus of the Gathering. Our simple desire is to “do life together” in the love and power of God’s Spirit.
Acts 2:42 describes the daily life of the first church like this: “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” That’s our agenda as a gathering of believers from various churches and church backgrounds. We are doing life together in the power of the Holy Spirit without any desire to compete with or detract from what traditional churches are doing. We have no desire to increase attendance, count numbers, or make a name for ourselves. Our vision is to build the Kingdom by introducing people to Jesus who may never attend a traditional church and then lovingly equip them to use their gifts in serving His Kingdom. When the early church did life together like that, the by-product was, “the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)
Others ask about our name, The Gathering. It’s taken from 2 Thessalonians 2:1, where Paul describes the return of Christ, “Now brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled…” One day all true believers in Jesus will be gathered together as one church family before the Father’s throne. But we believe it’s possible to enjoy a foretaste of that non-denominational love and fellowship even now. Surely this is allowed and encouraged by the words of Hebrews 10:25, “We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.” This command certainly applies to the organized churches and small groups we attend. But we believe there’s also a place and a need for believers from every church background to gather together in worship of Christ and love for one another.
Because there are already many good churches in our community, we have no desire to compete with them by incorporating as a church, adopting by-laws, and holding worship services on Sunday mornings. That is not the Gathering’s purpose. Our vision is simply to do life together in the power of the Holy Spirit encouraging those who love Jesus regardless of their church or denomination.
So, as we look forward to that great day when Jesus returns for His church, we will call our Sunday afternoon Bible study and fellowship “The Gathering.” We think that’s the best way to describe who we are now and who we’ll be forever when Jesus returns for us from heaven at The Gathering!