Summary: Let’s look at what some of God’s Word has to say about God’s people gathering together.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
A. As you travel to visit relatives or to enjoy a well-earned vacation, do you make a habit of attending church on Sunday wherever you are? I certainly hope that you do. I hope that you haven’t somehow adopted the pagan philosophy that God is only your God back home, & that He has no power or influence over your actions when you’re away from home.
Worshiping with others, joining with them in praising God, not only benefits you, but it is a witness & encouragement to those you visit, too.
B. But as you attend other churches, you begin to discover that there are dramatic differences in worship styles, & they can generally be divided into two types of services, traditional & contemporary.
1. For example, the traditional worship service is formal. Traditionalists often feel that the preacher ought to be dignified & speak theological truths in measured, reverent tones. They read responsively & often pray "The Lord’s Prayer" in unison. The choir wears robes, sings out of hymnbooks, & the music is Bach & Beethoven, played on an organ.
2. In contrast, contemporary worship services are very informal. The music is loud & upbeat, often accompanied by a praise band with guitar & drums & other instruments. The preacher dresses casually & may sit on a stool, holding a microphone, & conversationally visit with the congregation about the things of God.
APPL. Now both types of services have their strengths & their weaknesses. But the problem is that some people are so opinionated about their preferences that churches are actually fussing & dividing over how to worship God.
Some contemporaries are saying to the traditionalists, "If you won’t have a worship service the way we like it then we won’t worship with you." And some traditionalists are saying to the contemporaries, "We don’t like your kind of worship service so we won’t worship with you, either."
Now I think that’s a tragedy. When God’s people can’t worship & praise God together, then there is something wrong with our Christianity.
C. So how do we avoid this problem? Well, one way is to learn to put up with each other & love each other in spite of our preferences. So if something happens in worship that doesn’t particularly minister to me, I must learn to say, "Well, that doesn’t minister much to me, but it is ministering to someone else, & I praise God that I’m not the only one who has come to worship here today."
D. Now to help us develop this spirit of love in diversity, let’s look at Acts 20:7-12 & see what we can learn from it about Christians worshiping in the 1st century as the church was beginning to spread throughout the world.
Acts 20:7 says, "On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people &, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight."
Hey, is that how long my sermons ought to be? Well, maybe not. Let’s go on to vs. 8.
"There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on & on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story & was picked up dead.
"Paul went down, threw himself on the young man & put his arms around him. `Don’t be alarmed,’ he said, `He’s alive!’ Then he went upstairs again & broke bread & ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive & they were greatly comforted."
PROP. Now with this passage in mind, let’s look at some of what God’s Word has to say about Christians worshiping together.
A. First of all, our worship is to be a celebration. Notice that it says that they met "on the first day of the week." They met on the first day of the week as a weekly celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
The O.T. Jew met on the Sabbath or 7th day of the week to commemorate that God created the universe & everything in it in 6 days, & then on the 7th day He rested. So to the Jews, it was to be a day of rest & worship.
But today, most Christians meet on the first day of the week to celebrate Christ’s victory over sin & death. We celebrate our salvation, & the promise of everlasting life. Now that’s reason for celebration!
ILL. A sportswriter for the Dallas Morning News wrote an article a few years ago about visiting the Dallas Cowboy team at Valley Ranch after the 4th regular game of that football season.