Gathered and Scattered
God’s People GATHERED
It is the church gathered that most people are referring to when they talk about church. Church-gathered activities typically take place on the church campus and reflect the formal and official program of the congregation. Anything a person might do while wearing a “Beverly Heights” tee-shirt might be considered church gathered activities, even on the few occasions when the program takes place away from the church building.
It is shocking for most people to realize that, no matter how involved or overextended they feel they are when it comes to involvement in church programs, the maximum time an individual typically spends in church gathered activities is 2 –5% of their total lives.
This would not be surprising to Jesus, who had in mind for his people a life of strategic impact away from the gathered body (see God’s People Scattered below). That is not to say, however, that the church gathered is insignificant or unimportant. In fact, if the church were not gathered with regularity, its life in the scattered dimension becomes impotent.
God’s People SCATTERED
Fully 98% of a believer’s time is spent in pursuits that take him away from the church building. The believer does not cease to be the church when he is way from the building – he is simply the church in a different dimension, the church scattered.
The church scattered is comprised of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, living their lives under His lordship as the light, salt and leaven of the kingdom of God, wherever God has sovereignly scattered them. The church is scattered in homes, schools, workplaces, and community activities -- wherever a believer is, there is part of the church.
We believe that this is precisely what Jesus had in mind. Living in the world, bringing the kingdom of God near in word and deed is the true fulfillment of Jesus’ command to the man healed of the legion of demons to “go to your own home and tell them what God has done for you” (Mk. 5:19). It is the only approach to the Christian life that does justice to the public and declaratory nature of the faith to which we have been called and engages all believers in an obedient response to Jesus’ commands, not only to “come unto Me,” but “Ye shall be my witnesses,” etc. There are a number of key components to living the life of the church scattered. If one element is missing, the work that Christ desires to accomplish through His people will be thwarted.
The Church Gathered and Scattered
The relationship between the church gathered and the church scattered is easily understood through an appeal to a MASH unity. A Mobile Army Surgical Hospital exists to receive soldiers from the battle, patch up wounds, conduct surgical procedures, offer good nutrition, rest and advice on how to duck the next time, and then to send them back into the fray.
The church gathered is like a MASH. Men and women who live 98% of their lives in the battle for the kingdom of God as the church scattered, come to the church gathered for worship, nurture, fellowship and challenge for mission. They can’t live there, however; they can only stay so long before it’s time to get back out into the fray.
The church scattered does not devalue or diminish the role of the church gathered. On the contrary. The church scattered uplifts the church gathered. It helps to shape its ministry. It challenges the church gathered to make the most of the 2% it will give to its activities because that 2% has got to count for the 98% of the time when believers are out in the world, living as light, salt and leaven, out in the fray where the battle is fought for the lives of men and women and for eternity.