Does the whole idea of church “services” contradict the fact that the church is “a people,” not an event?
Some people object to defining the local church according to the three “marks” of the church identified by the Reformers: preaching, the ordinances, and church discipline. They say that the church is not an event or activity, but a people, who are Christ’s people all week, not just on Sundays. These writers are rightly responding to nominal Christianity and any form of Christianity that fails to inculcate a kingdom mindset among believers.
But the problem with this argument is that elements of the weekly gathering constitute the local church as a local church on the pages of the New Testament. It’s the act of gathering together to hear God’s word and practice the ordinances which makes a church a church. By analogy, a basketball team doesn’t have to be together in order to be a team, but coming together to play basketball is what constitutes them as a team.
What we call weekly “services” are commanded and exampled in the New Testament as that which constitutes the church as a church (e.g., 1 Corinthians 11:18).
The right preaching of the Word, guarded by a disciplined administration of the ordinances, will call believers to repent and obey everything that Christ commanded (Matthew 28:19), including the command to seek first his kingdom throughout the week (Matthew 6:33).
For more great resources from Mark Dever and 9Marks Ministries, visit www.9marks.org