What are some of the key issues informing and driving the conduct of services in the congregation to which you belong? Make a list and see whether these issues are addressed in any way in the pages of this website.

Sometimes the issues are practical and pastoral, such as the need to minister appropriately to different age groups, or to be outsider-friendly, or to engage with particular cultural groups, or even just to finish by a certain time because that's what the people want! But we need to be aware that practical and pastoral decisions generally reflect theological agendas, whether they are acknowledged or not.

For example, the content and style of one gathering presumes that the main aim is to teach and encourage the congregation, whereas another style of gathering presumes that the purpose is to encounter God in prayer and praise. In one church, only carefully prepared contributions by the gifted few may be encouraged, whereas poorly prepared and inadequately delivered contributions may be allowed in another, both strategies expressing particular understandings of the theology of edification!

The reading of Scripture may be extensive and well prepared in one church, but perfunctory and incidental in another, perhaps because of different views about the way the word of God is heard. Psalms may or may not be recited, because of opposing views about what can be understood and appreciated by contemporary believers.

The aim of this study is to consider what the Bible teaches about our gathering together as God's people. Such reflection is an essential step in the process of evaluating what we do in our congregations, so that we might glorify God and edify his church more effectively.

1 The defining story: the gathering of God
2 Created and nurtured by the gospel
3 Gathering as a testimony to Christ
4 Gathered for worship
5 Gathered for fellowship in Christ
6 Building towards maturity in Christ