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Sunday, November 15, 2015

The importance of corporate worship, prayer and fellowship in the local church

Acts 2:46-47  "Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved."

Introduction:
Why are corporate worship, prayer and fellowship vital to the local church? In today's post we will offer some brief reflections in answer to this question. 


1. First, corporate worship is important for the local church due to its aim in ascribing "worthship" to God by way of singing and preaching. Worship is rooted in grace and is aimed towards giving glory to God. Where is it that worship aims? Worship is vertical in its heavenward focus on the Triune God and it is outward focused in energizing people to share Jesus in missions.

2. Secondly, as worship is vital to local church-life, so is the closely related activity of prayer. Worship’s overall expression in the local church is intensified to the degree the local church emphasizes prayer. Jesus in the course of His earthly ministry expressed the following pattern of prayer for His people in Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17 and Luke 19:46 as them coming together at the "house of prayer". God has so ordained that prayer and intercession be one of the chief ways in which He will come alongside us and in us to strengthen and grow the church. 


As a beginning pattern that had been ordained from the days of the tabernacle and temple, Jesus demonstrated that such a pattern was to also mark the New Covenant church. It would also be suggested by this author that the set pattern of Jesus greatly informed the practice of the New Testament church. As those apostles and early statesmen led the church under the Holy Spirit's leading, they taught the church the primacy of prayer in both the church's life and individual Christian life.

3. So we’ve seen that worship and prayer are vital due to the way in which they provide a vertical focus to local church life. But now what about the third essential element – fellowship? Without fellowship, the necessary horizontal – or interpersonal - dimension of church life would be impossible. When you walk through Acts 2:43-46, you discover just how joyful and loving the early church must have been. These people were "feeling a sense of awe" (2:43); "who had believed were together and had all things in common" (2:44); "were sharing" (2:45); "one mind" (2:46); "taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart" (2:46). 

One writer has noted that the Biblical mandate for the church's fellowship is two-fold: "temple courts" or large group worship and "house to house" or small group fellowship. Thus the local church must needs have both preaching services whereby God's people can worship in song and word as well as have occasion to come together in small groups, whether in Sunday School on Sunday Mornings or in other arranged times. Both patterns engender loving fellowship in God's church.

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