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Definition

The weekly gathering of a church is an expression of Jesus’ greater heavenly gathering or the universal church. It is an embassy of Christ’s kingdom.

Summary

The gathering of a church is both an “embassy” of Christ’s kingdom and the temporary “geography” of that kingdom. We gather in order to represent heaven’s rule and judgments, establish a visible outpost of Christ’s kingdom, testify to the King, identify citizens of the kingdom, form a people, mobilize a people, and exalt the King. A church becomes a church in the gathering. It exemplifies the universal church in the gathering. It is where we as believers show what we are, learn what we are, become what we are, rejoice and give praise to God for what we are. We are God’s people, Christ’s body, the Spirit’s temple, the shepherd’s flock, the vine’s branch, the kingdom’s citizens, the demonstration of God’s wisdom and grace. And the assembly enacts and illustrates all of this. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the principalities and powers of this world should practice their opposition to Christianity by targeting church gatherings.

Churches gather. The point might seem so obvious it is not worth saying. Everyone knows this, even non-Christians. Just ask the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), who has made a habit in the last few years of breaking up church gatherings, dispersing members.

Yet the CCP’s work should cause us to pause and think: Why would they—and so many other oppressive governmental regimes throughout church history—feel threatened by church gatherings? What does a gathering represent? Or what purpose does it serve that a powerful government feels compelled to shut it down? The topic of church gatherings may feel like a commonplace one, but, apparently, it offers a touch of political intrigue, too!

The goal of this article is to consider what a church gathering is and what purposes it serves.

The Bible must ultimately determine our answers to those questions. Yet let’s stick with this illustration of a hostile government a moment longer. It offers an interesting doorway through which to approach the topic. What might an official of such a government, sitting at his desk pouring over intelligence reports, find threatening about something as banal and commonplace as church gatherings?

Why Are Church Gatherings a Threat?

The threat begins not with the gathering, but with the Christian message. These Christians, his informants tell him, say their ultimate allegiance belongs to this Jesus, not to the party, regime, or nation. They say he somehow “saved” them and is their “king.” Not only that, these people promise to prioritize one another over their fellow citizens and family members, at least in certain respects. They call each other “citizens of heaven” and “a holy nation” and “brother and sister” and “the family of God.”

If these were the ramblings of a few crazy people, he wouldn’t be worried. But he’s worried precisely because these Christians do gather. Each gathering gets a pin on the map in his office, and the number of pins is growing. To him, the gatherings feel like a growing political force, as if they were secret meetings of some foreign power. People show up and are indoctrinated. They affirm one another as dissidents. They receive marching orders. They mobilize. They disband and head out to find new recruits.

What if, like cancer cells, they continue to multiply and grow?

Our hostile official’s response is straightforward. Send police to disperse the gatherings, arrest the leaders, and confiscate copies of their “book.” If you crush the gatherings, you crush the movement.

(1) Gatherings Represent Heaven’s Rule and Judgments—like an Embassy

The concerns of our imaginary government official are off-base, but they’re not wholly without merit. They’re off-base because 2000 years ago God didn’t send Jesus to overthrow Caesar. And churches don’t gather to train insurrectionists.

And yet, our official is correct to recognize the work of a foreign power. If he could use theological language, he would know these gatherings represented the invasion of the kingdom of heaven—a kingdom that the seventeenth-century political philosopher Thomas Hobbes called “a reall, not a metaphoricall Kingdome.”1 Each pin on the official map marks an outpost of Jesus’ greater heavenly gathering, or what Christians call the universal church (see Heb. 12:22–23; Eph. 2:6).

He could even call these pins “embassies” of a heavenly kingdom. An embassy, of course, represents one nation inside of another nation. It speaks for the foreign government in an official capacity. It acts as a proxy, albeit provisionally.

For instance, I used to live and work in Brussels, Belgium. The U.S. Embassy there formally recognized me as a U.S. citizen and gave me a new passport when my old one expired. Even though I am a U.S. citizen, the embassy possesses an authority I don’t possess—the authority to speak for and make provisional decisions on behalf of the government of the United States.

By giving the keys of the kingdom first to Peter and the apostles and then to gathered churches, Jesus gave churches a similar authority to the U.S. Embassy in Brussels: the authority to make provisional judgments concerning what is a right confession of the gospel (Matt. 16:13–19) and who is a citizen of the kingdom of heaven (18:15–20). This is what Jesus meant when he said churches possesses the authority to bind and loose on earth what’s bound and loosed in heaven (16:18; 18:17–18). He didn’t mean they could make people Christians or make the gospel what it is, no more than the embassy could make me an American or make American laws. Rather, Jesus meant they could make official pronouncements or judgments concerning the what and the who of the gospel. What is a right confession? Who is a true confessor?

For a church to be a church, individual Christians must agree on those judgments: “I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (18:19). Yet that agreement shows itself in the church gathering. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I among them” (v. 20). A church can gather in his name because it agrees upon his name—who Jesus is and what he has done. Jesus then seals that agreement with his own presence. When Jesus’ says he’s “there,” he doesn’t mean he’s hovering like a mystical fog in the room. He means the gathering represents him. It speaks for him. It bears his authority. He identifies himself with it, as if they were flying his flag.

In other words, it’s not just that a church provisionally represents Christ’s rule and judgment. It’s the gathered church. The gathered church is the embassy. The gathering represents Jesus’ heavenly authority, whether that pin on the map is in Belgium, Germany, Russia, Iran, China, Canada, or Brazil.

Christians sometimes say that the church is a people, not a place. It’s true that a church remains a church even when it’s not gathered, just like a basketball “team” is a team even when the members aren’t gathered to play basketball. Still, a church becomes a church by gathering in a place, and we can become members only by gathering with it. You can’t be a church member without gathering; you can’t be on the basketball team if you never show up to the games.

Paul appears to have Jesus’s Matthew 18:20 promise in mind when the Corinthian church faced their own situation of church discipline: “When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan” (1Cor. 5:4–5). When a church gathers or assembles in Christ’s name, they possess the power of the Lord Jesus to remove someone from membership. After all, they can no longer agree that this person is a believer. Therefore, they must render a provisional judgment on Jesus’ behalf on earth.

Why do churches gather? To represent the rule and judgments of heaven.

(2) Gatherings Establish a Visible Outpost of Christ’s Kingdom—like Geography

Closely related to the last point is the idea that church gatherings represent the geography of the kingdom of heaven.

That might sound like a strange thing to say. But if we back up in the biblical storyline, we can understand it. Originally, God dwelled with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden—a geographic plot of land. When they sinned, he cast them out. They could no longer dwell or gather with their God.

Through Abraham God would then call a people to gather once again and fulfill the mandate he gave to Adam (see Gen. 28:3; also 35:11, 48:4).2 Eventually he would gather his Abrahamic people to the land of Canaan, where he would, from time to time, call them to assemble— actually and physically assemble. Think of a packed football stadium but without the stadium. The word used by the Greek Old Testament to describe these physical, shoulder-to-shoulder assemblies is ekklesia. For example:

  • The Israelites gathered at the base of Mount Sinai amid fire on “the day of the assembly”—the day of ekklēsia (Deut. 9:10; 10:4; 18:16).
  • Rules of citizenship excluded certain people from worship in “the assembly of the Lord”—the ekklēsia of the Lord (Deut. 23:1–8).
  • Moses instructed “all Israel” to “assemble” every seven years to hear the words of the law, and then he offered his final charge to “the assembly of Israel”—the ekklēsia of Israel (Deut. 31:10–12, 30).
  • Centuries later, King Solomon dedicated the temple by praying to God and then blessing “all the assembly of Israel” (2Chron. 6:3).

The ekklēsia served a crucial role in making God’s kingdom visible among the people of Israel, just as it was visible in the Garden. He established his covenant with his people in the assembly. And the people gathered to worship God in the assembly: “Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly [ekklēsia] of the godly!” (Psa. 149:1)

Commentators today sometimes distinguish the political and religious usages of ekklēsia, but the Hebrew mind would not have abided such a clean distinction. To bow before God as King is to bow before him as Redeemer. Indeed, God makes his rule visible precisely in order that he might be known and worshiped.

When God exiled Israel and Judah from the land, he effectively disbanded the assembly. Yet the prophet Joel, in the same breath in which he promised the outpouring of God’s Spirit (Joel 2:28–32; Acts 2:17–21), also told Israel to “gather the people” and “consecrate the congregation”—the ekklēsia (Joel 2:16). Israel’s entire political career and national history is pictured as a gathering, then a scattering through exile, and then a promise of another gathering.

It is against this Old Testament backdrop that we need to hear Jesus arriving on the scene and saying, “I will build my ekklēsia” (Matt. 16:18). Why did Jesus pick the word ekklēsia instead of “synagogue” or “fellowship” or something else? Jesus had in mind a gathering of a new Israel. Here was the true end of exile. Here was a new body politic. Here was the reconstituting of God’s kingdom through outposts of that heavenly kingdom on earth. Jesus came to gather a new assembly, a new ekklēsia.

Jesus did not intend his disciples to take over a geographic plot of land by sword. But nor did he intend for them to be a “religion” merely characterized by certain beliefs or a “club” whose members have voluntarily gathered around a common interest, like chess. Rather, he wanted to constitute them as a kingdom—a political reality—one which defied and transcended the political boundaries of this world. So he chose a political word that came with spatial meaning: ekklēsia. His disciples would submit to him, and they would do so together. Visibly. In a place. As a testimony to his rule. As if they were a landed kingdom like any other kingdom.

Like fifteenth-century Spanish explorers crossing oceans in search of gold, here our ship runs aground on the temporary-but-visible geography of Christ’s kingdom: the gathering. It’s temporary because it lasts on a weekly basis for only a couple of hours. It’s temporary because we have not yet attained our permanent inheritance. But the geography is real nonetheless. It’s spatial. It’s physical. It exists. It’s not theoretical. It’s visible. And it’s where the action happens.

Churches gather because as outposts or embassies of heaven they must become visible and audible and touchable, as touchable as elbows touching in the pew. Humans are physical creatures. Bodies matter. Space matters. Physical togetherness matters. And churches need a patch of geography on which to gather together so that they might become what they are—an assembly (in the original Greek) or a church (in English translation). Once again, Jesus therefore tells his disciples that his will somehow be specially present when two or three Christians gather in his name (Matt. 18:20).

Christians use this verse to sanctify their small groups, their Bible studies, their Christian conferences, even their dinner parties. Yet none of these are what Jesus is talking about. He’s talking about a church. The verse doesn’t contain everything needed for a church, like the ordinances. But it puts the authoritative structure in place: a gathering of Christ’s people bearing his keys and making judicial declarations on behalf of the kingdom.

Sure enough, step into a U.S. embassy in a foreign capital city, like Brussels, Belgium, and the embassy staff will tell you that you are stepping onto American soil. Why is that? Because the authority of the U.S. government controls that space. The physical space itself is inert, but its social significance is transformed by the imposition of U.S. authority. Authority “sanctifies” the land and space.

Likewise, Christ’s authority transforms geography. He sanctifies the space where Christians gather. He gives it a new social significance with his words “there” and “among” (Matt. 18:20). He’s there. He’s among. This is true whether or not the lord of that particular realm acknowledges it, whether that lord’s name is the Chinese Communist Party or the Iranian Ayatollah or a movie theater owner. When coupled with the preaching of the gospel and the ordinances, that gathering becomes a church. Jesus temporarily and symbolically stakes his claim in the physical world, and our government official places a pin on his map feeling a vague sense of a threat. Jesus’ kingdom has become visible and geographic there, among those people. When the church scatters, they remain members, but the geography vanishes. The space is no longer sacred.

One day, all God’s people will gather together—a “great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9). And this gathering never ends.

Until that day, why do churches gather? To establish visible, geographically-located outposts for Christ’s kingdom and that coming assembly.

(3) Gatherings Testify to the King—Like an Embassy Flag

If gathered churches are embassies, a third purpose follows: they testify to the king—his rule and salvation—like the flag in front of every embassy. This is why Jesus refers to gathering in his name, and why disciples baptize into his name (Matt. 18:20; 28:19). Through the Lord’s Supper churches declare Christ’s new covenant, the forgiveness of sins, and the promise of drinking wine with Christ in his Father’s kingdom (Matt. 26:28–29). Through preaching churches declare that this is the messiah, the hope of the nations who possesses all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18).

Churches gather to point to King Jesus.

In that regard, church gatherings possess an evangelistic function. They exist, in part, for the sake of the outsider or unbeliever. Hence, Paul’s comparison of prophecy and tongues highlights the advantage of prophesy for the non-Christian who visits the church gathering. When “an unbeliever or outsider enters” and hears prophesy, says Paul, “he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you” (1Cor. 14:24–25).

The lesson here for churches: churches should cultivate preaching that, among other things, aims to convict the hearts of unbelievers’ and lead them to worship. Christians will evangelize throughout the week, yes, but the assembly itself possesses evangelistic power. The seeker-sensitive or attractional church gets this much right. So bring your non-Christian friends to church.

Yet preaching for conviction also yields the danger with which this article began: opposition and persecution. When churches declare Jesus as King of kings—not Caesar, not Tamerlane, not the U.S. Supreme Court—they pose a threat. The nations and their rulers rage against the Lord and against his anointed (Psa. 2:1-2). Church gatherings, therefore, become the focal point of their ire because they’re where Christians proclaim, “Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise is in the assembly [ekklēsia] of the godly” (Psa. 149:1).

Why do churches gather? To testify to the king.

(4) Gatherings Identify Citizens of the Kingdom—Like Passports

As churches gather to testify to the king, they also testify who belongs to the kingdom, that is, to affirm its citizens. Sticking with the embassy metaphor, we might say the gathering is where churches ordinarily hand out passports. How do they do this? Through the ordinances.

Just as members of the Abrahamic covenant were marked off by circumcision, and members of the Mosaic covenant by Sabbath-keeping, so members of the new covenant are marked off by the initiating oath-sign of baptism and the ongoing oath-sign of the Lord’s Supper. This is why Jesus tells his disciples to baptize people “into the name” of Father, Son, and Spirit. He wants his people wearing the Jesus name-tag: “Hello, I’m with Jesus.”

Who possesses the authority to baptize people into Jesus’ name (Matt. 28:19)? Presumably it’s those who gather in his name (Matt. 18:20). He promises to grant his authoritative presence to those who gather now (v. 20), and as they baptize he promises to dwell with them always (28:20).

Baptisms might not always occur in the context of a church. Exceptions do exist. For example, in Acts 8, Phillip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch in the middle of a desert with no church gathering present. A missionary religion pushing out into new lands must sometimes separate baptism from the gathering. Yet exceptions are exceptions. Ordinarily, baptism belongs to the assembly. Acts 2 is normative, not Acts 8. In Acts 2, the Jews ask Peter what they must do to be saved. Peters tells them they must repent and be baptized, after which Luke tells us that 3000 men were “added to their number,” meaning the church in Jerusalem (Acts 2:41). Baptism is a church ordinance.

The Lord’s Supper, too, belongs to gathered churches. Paul explains, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1Cor. 10:17). Partaking of the one bread reveals, illumines, demonstrates, shows that we are one body. The Supper is a church-revealing ordinance. It says, “Here is the church.” It doesn’t belong to Christian college students at camp or the couple in a wedding or a father with his children or the small group of a church. It belongs to the key-wielding gathered church.

The practical takeaway is fairly concrete. Paul exhorts churches to “wait for one another” before taking the Supper (1Cor. 11:33). This ordinance belongs to the gathered church.

The other side of the coin is, Paul also places the final step of church discipline in the church gathering. If we affirm one another as members of the body in the gathering through the Supper, then it makes sense we practice removing someone from the Supper and membership in the church at the gathering. Therefore, Paul doesn’t tell the elders of the Corinthian church to remove the unrepentant man from membership in their Thursday night elders meeting. He tells the whole church to remove him when they are “assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus” (1Cor. 5:4).

Why do churches gather? To identify citizens of the kingdom (and exclude defectors).

(5) Gatherings Form a People—Like Citizenship Classes

Churches also gather to teach everything that Jesus commanded (Matt. 28:20). That is, they gather to form a people, a bit like citizenship classes teach people what it means to be a citizen.

Ultimately, the Holy Spirit creates and gives shape to a people. Yet the Spirit has ordained that churches use the so-called ordinary means of grace for this purpose: preaching the Bible, singing the Bible, reading the Bible, praying the Bible, and seeing the Bible (in the ordinances), to borrow phrasing from Ligon Duncan. A people take shape as they represent heaven’s rule and judgment, which connects this purpose with the first purposes listed above. To preach and to sit submissively under preaching shows that we agree with all that he says in his Word. To sing and to pray is to take God’s judgments into our mouths and to repeat them back to him and one another. And as we assent to these judgments, we take shape as a people.

Hence, everything done in the gathering should be done to shape and build up the saints. The New Testament epistles teach this:

  • Prophecy is better than tongues, Paul says, because “the one who prophesies builds up the church” (1Cor. 14:4).
  • Preaching and teaching serve the purpose of “admonishingone another in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16).
  • Singing, in addition to giving praise to God, serves to “address oneanother in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:19).
  • Communion, too, is a corporate activity, not a close-your-eyes-and-shut-out-the-church activity (1Cor. 10:17; 11:33).
  • Pastors themselves exist to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12).
  • Whatever you do in the gathering, Paul says, “strive to excel in building up the church” (1Cor. 14:12) and “Let all things be done for building up” (v. 26).

A church becomes a church in the gathering. It exemplifies the universal church in the gathering. It’s where we as believers show what we are, learn what we are, become what we are, rejoice and give praise to God for what we are. We are God’s people, Christ’s body, the Spirit’s temple, the shepherd’s flock, the vine’s branch, the kingdom’s citizens, the demonstration of God’s wisdom and grace. And the assembly enacts and illustrates all of this. Insiders and outsiders alike can see that, experience that, feel the first fruits of all that this in the assembly.

Theologian Everett Ferguson writes that the assemblies of our churches “are a time for distinctively Christian activities.” A church “will manifest itself and its presence in other ways, but when it comes together ‘as a church’ it will especially express its nature and its concerns.”3 This can be discerned in Paul’s plea for unity and the discerning of the body of Christ at the Lord’s Table (1Cor. 11:17–34). It can be discerned in 1 Corinthians 13’s emphasis on love as the greatest virtue, which is immediately applied in chapter 14’s emphasis on doing everything for the purpose of building up the body (see vv. 1, 3–5,12). And it can be discerned in Paul’s emphases on what should be uniform “in all the churches” (14:33).

To understand the formative significance of Sunday’s gathering we must look at its Monday-to-Saturday effect. We gather on the first day of the week and are formed by the same Word. Then we scatter the rest of the week, striving to help one another live underneath that Word in all the domains of life—mothers helping mothers, friends helping friends, workers helping workers. Sunday’s preaching shapes our all-week fellowship and life.

Why should Christians gather weekly and not monthly or by some other schedule? After all, there’s no explicit New Testament command for Christians to gather weekly. Yet to gather weekly is the implicit lesson of creation, the Old and New Testaments, and all of church history. God established a seven-day cycle in creation. Old Testament Israel followed that cycle as the sign of their covenantal allegiance to this God. The New Testament church stopped meeting on the Sabbath—Saturdays—but almost immediately switched to gathering on Sunday, the day Christ rose the dead or the “Lord’s Day (Acts 20:7; 1Cor. 6:2; Rev. 1:10). And Christians have met on Sundays for 2000 years. Beyond all this, the reason for a weekly gathering is not difficult to intuit: weekly meetings shape a Christian’s daily discipleship because the weekly cycle, established in creation, is what sets the regular rhythm for our daily lives and schedules.

By gathering with a church weekly, the saint stands a good chance of spotting several of his or her friends, even if there are a thousand other people in the room. In the gathering, we are confronted by one another’s presence, out of which Bible-directed relationships grow.

Not surprisingly, the first disciples “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship” and spent much time “attending the temple together” (Acts 2:42,46). But then they scattered to care and provide for one another in their homes (2:44–46). The author of Hebrews, too, exhorts us to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another” (Heb. 10:24–25).

Why do churches gather? To form a people.

(6) Gatherings Mobilize a People—Like Training Ambassadors

One aspect of Christian formation worth highlighting in particular is the fact that Christ has made his people ambassadors and given them a ministry of reconciliation (2Cor. 5:18–20). And the gathering is where Christ, through his preachers, ordinarily commissions his people to “go into all nations to make disciples” (Matt. 28:18).

For instance, the apostle John commends a church for receiving and loving a group of missionaries who have “gone out for the sake of the name” (3Jn. 5–6). Then he exhorts them, “We ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth” (v. 8). Not every Christian is a national-border-crossing missionary, but every Christian is a fellow worker for the truth.

Paul likewise commends the Thessalonians for imitating his example in making sure the gospel sounded forth in their own city and across international borders, even amidst opposition (1Thes. 1:8; 2:14-16). Where are we equipped to declare the gospel word? In the gathering.

Why do churches gather? To equip and mobilize a people to make disciples.

(7) Gatherings Exalt the King

Finally, churches gather not just to point to the King, but to exalt the King. To worship. Purposes one to six above culminate here. And there is no embassy analogy here because embassies do not serve the purposes of worship. Churches do.

God commands us to sing addressing “one another,” yes, but even more we are to make melody “to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19).

We teach and admonish “one another in all wisdom,” but we do so “with thankfulness in [our] hearts to God.” Paul continues: “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:16–17).

The gathering exists to equip and edify one another. It exists to point outsiders to Christ. Yet most importantly, the saints gather weekly to worship and exalt God.

John Piper argues in that the most explicit connection between the existence of the church and God’s purposes in corporate worship occur in 1 Peter 2 (see bibliography below). There, Peter says that Christians are “being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices accepts to God through Jesus Christ” (1Pet. 2:5). Why are we built up? To offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. This passage presumably has more in mind than the gathered church, but its talk of being built up as a spiritual house suggests it does not have less.

A few verses later, Peter adds even more corporate metaphors: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” Why has God made us these things together? He has done it in order that we “may proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Our corporate life is tied to the proclamation of God’s excellencies.

Why do churches gather? To worship and exalt God.

Conclusion

Churches don’t gather merely for pragmatic or instrumental reasons—because it’s a good thing to do or because it’s beneficial. Churches gather because it’s essential to a church being a church. It’s essential to the church’s mission of proclaiming the excellencies of God.

A church becomes a church in the gathering. Strictly speaking, a person can belong to the church without ever gathering with a church. The repentant thief on the cross qualifies. And yet, a person calls into question whether he or she belongs to the church by trying to follow in his footsteps. Don’t say you’re a member of the family if you’re never with the family. Things act like what they are.

Likewise, we shouldn’t say we’re participating in the church’s mission if we never gather. A person wouldn’t claim to be on the basketball team if he never showed up for the games.

What is the gathered church? It’s an embassy and the geography of Christ’s kingdom. We gather in order to

  • represent heaven’s rule and judgments,
  • establish a visible outpost of Christ’s kingdom,
  • testify to the King,
  • identify citizens of the kingdom,
  • form a people,
  • mobilize a people,
  • exalt the King.

Sometimes, the governments and peoples of this world will look with suspicion at those pins on the map. Sometimes, they’ll look at us with indifference. But occasionally, they’ll look at us with a wonder that gives way to praise: “God is really among you.”

Footnotes

1Leviathan, edited by Richard Tuck in Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991), ch. 35, para. 219.
2This paragraph and the next eight come directly from my One Assembly: Rethinking the Multisite and Multiservice Model (Crossway, 2020).
3Ferguson, 244.

Further Reading

  • Christopher Ash, Remaking a Broken World: the Heart of the Bible Story (Good Book Company, 2019).
  • Everett Ferguson, The Churches of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996), 244-46.
  • John Piper, “Corporate Worship: Biblical and Beautifully Fitting,” in Expository Exaltation (Crossway, 2018), 31-48.
  • Jonathan Leeman, One Assembly: Rethinking the Multisite and Multiservice Models (Crossway, 2020).
  • Jonathan Leeman, “The Church: Local and Universal,” the Gospel Coalition.

This essay is part of the Concise Theology series. All views expressed in this essay are those of the author. This essay is freely available under Creative Commons License with Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA 3.0 US), allowing users to share it in other mediums/formats and adapt/translate the content as long as an attribution link, indication of changes, and the same Creative Commons License applies to that material. If you are interested in translating our content or are interested in joining our community of translators, please reach out to us.