“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” – Acts 2:42
I think we’d all agree that that verse and the section that follows it clearly shows we definitely shouldn’t just be reading our Bibles and praying once or twice a week. But I would go further and say that seeing each other one or two days each week where most of us are primarily just an audience wasn’t what God intended, either. While Sunday attendance is a vital part of the Christian life, it is the starting point of our connection with our church family, not the end of our duties.
When God called us to be “members” of the church, it wasn’t as members of an organization, like a social club, but as members of a body, all interconnected and dependent on each other (1 Corinthians 12). In Acts 2 we see the church behaving as a family. What belonged to one belonged to all, including possessions, meals, homes, and time. When we don’t see our fellow Christians outside of an organized gathering on Wednesdays and Sundays, it’s hard to claim we’re a family that is dependent on each other for survival and strength.
Think of all the “one another” commands in the New Testament. It’s really not possible to carry those out in an hour or two a week, is it? How much personal exhortation (or even rebuking) can happen in a tight two hour window? How much confessing of our sins to one another happens in a gathering of dozens or hundreds of people? How much can we rejoice and weep with one another in a few short minutes each week? It’s when we draw nearer to one another that our weaknesses are revealed, and when we are weak, two things happen: first, Christ is exalted (2 Corinthians 12:10) and second, we get to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:1-2).
When our mindset changes from making Sunday and Wednesday the hub of our spiritual life to making it an everyday thing, we start feeling that closeness with one another. And when we do that, our walk with God becomes easier. Evangelism becomes easier. Prayer becomes more natural. Growth happens more quickly. All because God gave us to each other to help each other (Galatians 6:2, Hebrews 3:12-13, and plenty of others).
However, that doesn’t mean the answer is having more events at the church building. A church can “busy” people to the point of burnout when it is functioning as an organization putting on events. And, when the events are always put on by church leadership rather than being the natural outpouring of family spending time with each other, the intended connection doesn’t happen.
Once again, we take the Acts 2 example. Where does this growth take place? From house to house. How does this growth take place? Through fellowship, study, and prayer. It’s important that we spend time together doing these things outside of the church building. Sometimes it’s just going to be fellowship. Other times, we’ll be intentionally getting together to have a study, or a devotional. Other times, we will specifically get together to pray.
And, of course, the question is – how often does this take place? For them, it was daily. For us, in our fast-paced world with a million commitments and geographical challenges, that might not be realistic. But we surely aren’t doing enough by gathering in a big room two or three times per week.