-Need to pay proper respect to Hugh Halter and Matt Smay authors of “AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church”
What exactly are we trying to do or be as a church?
We gather on Sunday mornings for preaching, singing, communion and shared testimony. Does this Sunday gathering define who we are? We gather in smaller groups Monday through Saturday for Bible study, prayer, fellowship and mission. Does this network of gospel-centered relationships define who we are? The answer is that we are both. In Scripture you clearly see both.
“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.” -Acts 20:7
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” –Matthew 5:13
There does not need to be any confusion about which we are trying to become. Instead, we simply want to be obedient to what we see in the pages of Scripture. We are both.
What will this “both” church look like? How does “gathered and scattered” work together?
Because we are the family of God (Ephesians 2:19), we are immersed in relationships with one another throughout the week making disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:16-20). As a church family we love one another like crazy in many sacrificial ways. But these relationships are not merely for our own edification. Because we understand our gospel identity, because we are driven by the redemptive story of God we are bringing the gospel to bear on every area of our life (home, neighborhood, school, work, and world).
The result is that as we live together on mission during the week, people are slowly being introduced to the gospel. People will begin to join our weekly gatherings. The gospel will spread, through our relationships, into every area of our life. The gospel will have a viral impact in our our neighborhood, city and around the world. We have to stop and honestly ask; do our hearts yearn to see this happen?
People may join our church for a number of reasons (our church is close to their home, they like our corporate worship or Children’s Ministry, etc…) But don’t miss this; over time we will see people who have been impacted by our relationships during the week who begin to join our corporate gathering. This happens because we live into our identity as missionaries in everyday life!
What is the end game? Where is this leading us?
The dream is not merely to see how large our church can become, rather to plant new churches so that the gospel can continue to spread into new communities and neighborhoods. This is a picture of a church that exists for more than its own interests. This is a picture of a church that is more than an institution. This is a picture of a church that understands it is a movement of God’s redemptive love in a hurting, broken world.