Category Archives: church

The problem with talking about “my” church…

…is that it reeks of sectarianism. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe for a second that most of the people who use this language when referring to the congregation they’re a part of mean it like that, but when I come along talking about “my” church as opposed to “your” church I am denying a great deal of the New Testament revelation concerning Christ’s church in doing so.

In the New Testament “the church” is identified simply according to the place where the community of Christ-followers is gathered together. A few times this is seen to be in a private home, but mostly it is confined to the boundary of a specific city or town. The local church is just that-all the disciples of Jesus in a given locality.

To talk about the church in any other way is to perpetuate the centuries-long confusion that daily arises over the rampant (mis)use of that word.

Some Christians are very frustrated with their oft-attended congregation. They are disappointed with the leadership’s lack of social concern as opposed to the more liberal-minded gathering on the other side of town, for instance. Yet other Christians are very proud of the work and assumed identity of their particular group, finding it hard not to boast about the way “their” church follows more closely to the heart and teachings of Jesus than others do.

And again I say, it all reeks of sectarianism.

Please don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not ranting and I’m not upset. And I don’t claim to know the way any better than the next guy. I myself experimented with a handful of other brothers and sisters for about three years in a more “organic” expression of church life and we too failed to impact the world in any significant way. So I will gladly take my place in line and join the swelling ranks of those who talk like they know what’s up when evidently they really don’t. 🙂

It’s just that when you’ve seen something you’ve seen something, that’s all there is to it. And when you’ve really spied something of the truth-something which you would gladly compromise on if you could but you can’t-then the only recourse is to pursue it.  

All I know is, I cannot in good conscience talk about “my” church and “your” church like I once did. It took a heavy dose of revelation and lots of practice to break those old habits and bring me to the point of actually changing my speaking. In other words, I had to train myself to begin to speak in a language that better reflects the reality of Christ. And the journey is not over, obviously. 

Wherever we are, we all need a greater consciousness of our oneness with fellow seekers. The more we get in touch with the actual source of life the more our living and speaking will reflect that life, and vice versa. There is no merit in merely imitating the language and forms of first-century churches, as that would be counter-productive to our calling. Our calling is not to follow a form or a model but a living Person. This is the true meaning of “organic.” At the same time, however, we may certainly gauge the success of our own following by looking at the standard of those who have followed him closely in the past.  

Jesus said it best when he pointed out that what is in a man’s heart will inevitably come out of his mouth. The way we talk about things reveals our understanding of things, and the church is no exception to that rule. When I talk about “my” church in contrast to “their” church in reference to other believers who live just across town, a few blocks away, or in some cases only a few doors down, all I am doing is showing the world that I have no idea what the church really is.

Capice?

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Are our gatherings truly an expression of the church which is His Body?

Imagine you woke up this morning and your left leg didn’t work. Don’t you think you’d notice something was wrong? It’s a simple analogy, really, but it’s the kind of thing that comes across so forcefully in Paul’s consideration of the church as the “Body” of Christ (as, for instance, in 1 Corinthians 12).

Notice Paul doesn’t say the church is “like” a body, but that the church is the Body of Christ. This is no mere metaphor. To Paul, this is a working reality, both in the daily life and the gathering together of the disciples of Jesus.

Alas, however, today this usually isn’t the case, is it? Most Christians participate in a kind of church life where the majority of ministry is carried out by a few rather than by all the members together. A great deal of the Body’s function is (or at least can be) invalidated and rendered inoperative by this unhealthy clergy-laity distinction which prevails so completely throughout modern Christianity.

Proof of that statement is easy enough to gauge. Most of the gatherings you’ll ever walk into would be entirely unaffected should you continue to show up week after week and never participate in the meetings or community life. Ironically, though it is designed for you (and for the other people present) the show would go on with or without you just the same. It is not dependent on a robust spiritual life operating in all its members resulting in a healthy, moment-by-moment functioning of the Body as a whole. Rather, it is carried on mostly by a select number of staff members aided by the volunteer labor of a few eager laymen.

I’m not trying to be harsh or negative here, I’m just stating what I’ve observed so far in my eleven years as a Christian. In most places the body can wake up and never even notice that its left leg isn’t working, so to speak, simply because there is no “Body” basis at all in operation-there is only a congregation being maintained through the diligent labor of a few faithful ministers.  And there is a vast difference between a church, biblically speaking, and a congregation. One is a Body alive and functioning (for better or for worse I might add) while the other, for the most part, is a thing of rote and ritual.

Anyway, maybe I’ve gone too far in saying all that, but one of the things I learned in the past three years of informal gatherings with other brothers and sisters on this “Body” basis is just how necessary it becomes for there to be an active pursuit and discovery of Christ taking place. What do I mean by that? I’m not entirely sure, myself. I just know that it’s easier said than done. 

For one, when the gathering is small it’s natural that it will be more obvious when brother so-and-so isn’t present, or that sister so-and-so seems to be discouraged and is not sharing like usual. But even more than the size of the gathering, what matters is that the community is established upon this basis of Body life and ministry as opposed to clergy-led church life. This is not to say there shouldn’t be leaders, teachers, pastors, or anything else of the like. That’s not what I mean to say at all. Just that there is a difference, a very marked and definite difference between the two. If you know what I’m talking about then you know. If you don’t, well, I might be tempted to say that I envy you. Because it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do to give birth to, help sustain, or just be a part of a living, moving expression of the church which relies on the actual spiritual life of its members for its own maintanance and upbuilding.

In the kind of church life envisioned in the New Testament, when one member suffers the others suffer with it. When the eye isn’t working right, the rest of the Body has a hard time seeing. And when you wake up in the morning and your left leg isn’t functioning properly, you take notice. 🙂

God speed the day when there are communities of believers all across our land who look only to the Lord when they come together, gathering truly and fully as His church! For in the words of Anthony Norris Groves, “This I doubt not is the mind of God concerning us-we should come together in all simplicity as disciples, not waiting on any pulpit or ministry, but trusting that the Lord would edify us together by ministering as He pleased and saw good from the midst of ourselves.”


The goal of the gospel

Matthew 26:6-13 contains one of the most beautiful stories in all of scripture. Jesus is at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper. John’s account tells us that Lazarus is also there, along with Mary and Martha (who is serving the dinner) and other of Jesus’ disciples. Even a large crowd of Jews shows up for the occasion, not just to see Jesus but Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead.

At some point in the meal Mary comes and kneels at Jesus’ feet. She breaks an alabaster box of very expensive perfume and begins to wash his feet, wiping them with her hair. Fragrance from the perfume fills the entire house.  But not everyone is pleased with this extravagance.  Certain of the disciples, namely Judas, asks indignantly about the purpose of this waste (take note, however, that Matthew records it as being not only Judas but all of the disciples who were upset).

But Jesus stands firm against their callousness. The woman “has done a beautiful thing to me,” he says, and then adds, “Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

Whatever took place in that moment of time, then, to the Lord Jesus at least it had tremendous significance. I find it interesting to observe this setting. Here you have a dinner being given for the Lord. He is the centerpiece around which everyone present is gathered. However, different people are there for different reasons. The motives of the people in attendance are mixed. Some are there as his followers and disciples, learning from him as they do every day. A few, like Martha, are there to serve him. Others are there merely to see the power and outcome of his miraculous deeds. Among the Jews also there were probably some present who were involved in plotting to kill him. And then there was Judas, who had no genuine care for the poor but was there to use his position with the Lord as a means to his own end. So there are mixed motives present with everyone in the house.

Yet there is one among them whose motivation, beyond any other, is out of pure love for her Lord. And with no regard for appearance she pours out an extravagant display of affection toward the One she loves. Her display draws an immediate reaction from those watching and from the Lord himself. They are repulsed; He is pleased. And the remark Jesus makes about Mary’s devotion is chock full of wonderful meaning.

When the Lord said that what Mary did on this occasion would be told in memory of her wherever the gospel was preached He was saying something very significant. At the heart of the gospel story is a woman who wastes everything she has on the Lord Jesus Christ, for this is what the gospel is intended to produce: a people (a corporate woman if you will, the Bride of Christ) whose lives are spent so lavishly at his feet that even many of His well-meaning followers will look on and ask “Why this waste? This person has such talent, such gifting, such ability that could be put to good use. Why would they waste it all in this way?”

Angus Kinnear tells the story of a young Watchman Nee going once to visit an old friend and mentor. The story is taken from his book Against the Tide: The Story of Watchman Nee, and it’s just too good to not include here. Fighting tuberculosis, Watchman refused to invoncenience his friend by staying and decided to return home by the river…

“But on the two-hour journey his fever returned, and with it the devil to assail him by using the depressive effects of the tuberculosis to draw out his inner resentments. ‘You had a bright future, full of possibilities, and you gave it up to serve God. That was splendid. But then you had a promising ministry in which, with your gifts, you were assured of success; and that, too, you threw away. For what? You relinquished so much; what have you gained? Sometimes God hears your prayers. Often enough He is silent. Compare yourself with that other fellow out there now in the big evangelical system. He, too, had a bright future, and he has never let it go. He is spiritually prosperous and God honors his ministry. He gets souls saved and they go on with God. And moreoever, he looks like a Christian, so happy, so satisfied, so assured. Do you? Take a look at yourself!’

“Disembarking, he went to his parents’ home on the waterfront to pay them his respects and attend to the business that had brought him… Next day he ventured out into the town, sorrowfully avoiding the two meeting places of the long-divided local church. Below the bridge the cormorant fishers were at work, and he paused to watch them as he used to when a child, marveling at the patience of the captive birds. He walked slowly, leaning on a stick.

“All at once, there on the street, whom should he encounter but one of his former Trinity College professors. He greeted him with a bow, and the man took him into a tea shop where they sat down. After a few sharp inquiries he stopped and looked Watchman up and down. ‘What is this?’ he exclaimed with evident dismay. ‘We thought a lot of you at high school, and had hopes that you would achieve something great. Do you mean to say you are still like this?’

“Traditionally the Chinese student holds his teacher in high regard, returning to him formal thanks for each scholastic success; so the very pointed question struck cruelly home. Here was one whom Watchman instinctively honored and who saw him merely as an educational dropout. He quailed before the man’s penetrating gaze. For it was true: his health was broken, his prospects gone; what had he to show? And here was his old teacher of Chinese law asking, ‘Are you still not an inch further forward? No progress, no career, no nothing?’ In that moment Ni To-sheng, grown man as he was, was close to tears.

“And the very next instant (as he tells us), ‘I really knew what it meant to have the Spirit of glory resting upon me. I could look up and say, “Lord, I praise You that I have chosen the best way.” To my professor it was a total waste to serve the Lord Jesus; but that is the goal of the gospel-to give everything to God.’

Amen! May the Lord find such a people, like Mary, and like this brother… a people whose lives are wasted in love upon Him for the full satisfaction of His heart’s desire. And may the world, through this people, come to see just how worthy He really is!


Debunking the myths surrounding organic church

When you get the chance you should stop by the blog of Milt Rodriguez. Milt is halfway through a series on 10 Myths about Organic Church, and so far each post has been choc full of good insight from a brother who has ample experience following and serving the Lord outside traditional Christianity.

Myth #1 was that organic church is a new method for doing church. You actually get this impression from a growing number of folks these days, but the kind of church life Milt participates in and writes about is far from being just another model of doing church. Thank God, I say.

Myth #2 was that organic church is a new movement. Lots of good insight here. History is often the best education a person can have, and here Milt takes a look at church history from an angle few people ever consider. Well worth the read.

Myth #3 was that organic church is a spontaneous free-for-all. Nothing could be further from the truth, according to Milt. Meetings are not meant for people to just come together and spout off whatever they want to say, meetings are for the specific purpose of exhibiting Christ in all His glorious fullness!

Myth #4 was that organic churches do not have leaders. This is a big one. I enjoyed reading what Milt had to say as he struck this one down.

Most recently Milt has set his crosshairs on the myth that organic church is all about rapid multiplication of churches and discipleship. Rather than let me spoil the show, however, why not hop over and read it for yourself. I’ve met Milt a couple times in person and he is a good brother, full of faith and a passion for the Lord Jesus.


What is an apostle?

He gave some to be apostles…” (Ephesians 4:11)

Recently we took a brief look at Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus-commonly known as the “pastoral epistles”-and saw how contrary to popular belief these men were not pastors (not in the modern sense of the word) but apostles. This begs the question, what is an apostle? From superhuman Christian to a relic of bygone ages, concepts of apostleship abound in the Christian world.

To start with, the basic meaning of the word apostle is “sent one.” An apostle, therfore, is one who is sent by another. Interestingly enough, the New Testament reveals four different orders of apostles. Let’s consider these now, beginning with  

The Lord Jesus Christ, the first apostle.

The writer to the Hebrews refers to Jesus as “the apostle… of our confession” (Heb. 3:1). The Lord Jesus was the original apostle of God, sent by our Father into the world for the salvation of man and the bringing back into play of God’s eternal purpose. As an apostle, as in every other way, there is none like Christ. He is pre-eminent in His apostleship. After Him, we have

The twelve apostles of the Lamb.

When Jesus began to travel and teach as a rabbi he gathered twelve men to himself who then spent the better part of three or four years following the Lord wherever he went. They became learners, or disciples, of Jesus. At the end of that time, after the Lord was crucified and had risen from the dead, he appeared to them and said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). With this sending the disciples became apostles. The apostleship of the twelve is unique and not to be compared with the many sent ones who would follow in their stead, as evidenced by the vision of the New Jerusalem given to John in Revelation 21:14, where he saw inscribed on the foundation of the city the names of these twelve men and none other.

However, contrary to the belief of some, apostleship did not end with the deaths of the twelve. The idea that the first century was marked off as some special apostolic “age” after which there would cease to be apostles, prophets, miracles, signs and wonders forms the teaching commonly known as cessationism. Cessationism is a man-made doctrine that holds no water when held up to the light of scripture. One simple proof of this can be seen in Revelation 2:2. Here the Lord commends the church at Ephesus for testing those who claimed to be apostles but were not. If the only genuine apostles to exist in the first century were the twelve disciples of Jesus then such a test would be ridiculously unneccesary, for all you would need to know is whether or not such a one claiming to be an apostle was in fact Peter, James, John, or one of the others. No actual testing would be required. But there were indeed other apostles besides the twelve, starting with

Paul and Barnabas, the apostles of the Spirit.

Acts 13:1-4-“Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.”

Here we have another unique set of circumstances. Barnabas and Saul had been living and teaching in the church at Antioch for some time. When they and a few of the other leading brothers were together ministering to the Lord the Holy Spirit witnessed to each of their spirits in such a profound way that all present knew the Lord’s intention for these two. They were called by the Lord, they had been trained and prepared for their ministry through years of experience in the church life, and now the Holy Spirit was signifiying that the time was right. So they left for foreign fields, “sent out by the Holy Spirit.”   As the Father had sent the Son so the Son had sent the twelve, but now we see the Spirit doing the sending. This is a new and different kind of sending, and therefore a different order, so to speak, of apostleship.  

What is the fourth order of apostleship revealed in the New Testament, the kind which is still being carried on by the Lord to this day? We find mention of it in 2 Corinthians 8:23, where Paul is speaking of Titus and the other brothers who often accompanied him on his travels and shared in his labors. Here it is we find

The apostles of the churches.

Little is known about the young men who travelled and labored with Paul on his journeys. We know of Barnabas and Silas, his co-workers for journeys one and two. What we are left to piece together is the story behind men such as Timothy, Titus, Gaius, Aristarchus, Secundus, Epaphras, and others. Paul himself refers to them as “partners… fellow workers… apostles of the churches, the glory of Christ.” But who were they? They were young men who grew up in the church life of their respective cities. Young men who burned with a passion for Christ and God’s eternal purpose, who over time showed evidence of being gifted by the Lord for a certain kind of work, namely that of apostleship. Eventually each of these men were recognized by both Paul and their fellow brothers and sisters in the church as being chosen by God for His work, and the churches sent them to join Paul on his journeys.

These are the kinds of apostles who have never in any generation been absent from the pages of church history. There were a good number of them in the first century, and it is possible their ranks were even populated by women such as Andronicus and Junia (Romans 16:7). The Lord has continued giving such brothers and sisters as gifts to His church, and their contribution to the building up of the Body of Christ is beyond value.

Having established all this, you might now be wondering, what is the mark of an apostle? How can I, like the church in Ephesus, know whether a man or woman is truly an apostle? To answer this I refer you to consider both

The sign and the seal of apostleship.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:12 of the signs of a true apostle. Most people take this passage to mean Paul is saying a true apostle will perform signs and wonders and mighty works. While this may certainly be the case, such signs may also be counterfeited or done by those who are not themselves apostles (such as Philip or Stephen). The real emphasis in this verse seems to be on “utmost patience.” An apostle, therefore, is one who draws from a seemingly endless source, whose well runs deep in Christ and is incredibly difficult to dry up. In the words of Watchman Nee, “endurance is the greatest proof of spiritual power, and it is one of the signs of an apostle. It is the ability to endure steadfastly under continuous pressure that tests the reality of an apostolic call.”

Paul was certainly an example of this kind of steadfast endurance. So much more the Lord Jesus. An uncanny ability to go to the cross, despite the pressure, the pain, the persecution, the ridicule, or the hardship is one sure test of an apostolic claim. Does a man bear suffering well? Does he in one way or another bear in his body and in his being the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ?

More convincing than the signs is the seal of an apostle. This is something Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 9:1,2 when speaking of the church in Corinth. Two things are of note in this passage. First, Paul says “if to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you…” This seems to imply that one who is really an apostle is not necessarily an apostle in every setting. For instance, Paul was sent out by the Spirit from the church at Antioch where he made his home. In Antioch Paul may have been a gifted teacher, even a prophet according to the scripture, but to the saints in Antioch Paul was just a brother. He was simply brother Paul. A good brother, yes, but just a brother nonetheless. There was nothing of the superstar mentality that permeates so much of western Christianity today. Paul was not the resident priest of the Antioch church, he had no special status, he worked a job like everyone else, and though men respected him for the measure of Christ he possessed, no one was afraid of him or looked to him in any way that puffed him up and set him apart from others. Again, Paul was just a brother.

There are many men today who claim to be apostles or who view themselves and wish to be viewed by others as apostles based simply on some gifting they think they have from the Lord. Very little witness is given to this by other brothers and sisters, often based upon the fact that there are no other brothers and sisters present to give such a witness! Years of tested, proven experience in the local church life precede any development or recognition of apostleship. This is the Lord’s way, the only safe way to guarantee that the man who is sent out to minister (not the man who simply goes out of his own accord) is no threat but rather a help to the Lord’s people. This is a very vital element that is missing in most circles today. “Apostles” form vast networks, connect with people online, build charitable organizations and speak at conferences but have no local church life in which they are nothing more than just another brother. This is a great need in the Body of Christ today.

To get back to my point, the other thing Paul mentions in this passage from 1 Corinthians 9 that is worthy of note is found in his reference to the Corinthian believers themselves as “the seal (or proof) of my apostleship in the Lord.” Here we have something that cannot be denied. Basically Paul is saying that the proof of apostleship-the proof that one has been called, prepared, and sent of the Lord by his own local church to build up God’s House elsewhere-is in the churches raised up through a man’s ministry. In other words, an apostle raises up churches, plain and simple. Real flesh and blood churches, that is.Visible, locatable assemblies that can be visited and have letters written to them. Organic churches that exist apart from the supporting structures of human organization, institution, and headship. And also, churches that go on living and moving and being after the apostle has left town.

If a man or woman can do this, there’s a good chance he or she is an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This principle of an apostle raising up a church and then leaving it to the headship of the Lord is all throughout the New Testament. The reasons for it are many, the examples more than evident. Even the Lord Jesus Himself said to the twelve, who would form the nucleus of the first church in Jerusalem, “it is good for you that I go away.” Every true apostle will have this same sentiment in his heart toward those he is working with to build up as the House of the Lord. It is good for every church that the apostle goes away so the members of that church can develop into a real priesthood of believers and learn how to know and follow the Lord on her own with no man, minister or “pastor” doing the work for her. Shepherding will abound in the organic expression of the church, just not in the modern official sense we see so prevailing in Protestant Christianity.

Well, perhaps that is enough to say for now on this subject. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed considering this issue the last few days. How we need apostles in the church! How we need men and women who are called and sent of God-broken, meek, well-trained servants who are thrust forth into His harvest field for the raising up of the testimony of Jesus Christ as Head over all things! May the Lord give us more such men, and may the expression of the church they raise up be of a higher quality and a deeper reality than anything any of us have yet seen! 


The pastoral epistles: fact or fiction?

For as long as I can remember I’ve heard 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus referred to as the “pastoral epistles.” I even had a class in Bible college by the same name. The assumption is that Timothy and Titus were pastors according to the modern conception. Most people accept this without any thought, as if it were automatically true. In reality, though, this is a classic case of our tendency as humans to read into the scripture our own present traditions and practices. Or, as Richard Hanson has said,

“It is a universal tendency in the Christian religion, as in many other religions, to give a theological interpretation to institutions which have developed gradually through a period of time for the sake of practical usefulness, and then read that interpretation back into the earliest periods and infancy of those institutions, attaching them to an age when in fact nobody imagined that they had such a meaning.”

Our modern conception of a pastor is basically of a guy (or gal) who functions as resident priest of a local congregation of Christians. The Protestant pastorate is basically a reformed version of the Roman Catholic priesthood with more of an emphasis on the preaching of scripture than the administering of sacraments. The modern “pastor” is a local brother who preaches the sermon on Sunday and usually gets paid a salary to perform the duties of the clergy, such as visitations, church administration, ect.

The strongest evidence against the view that Timothy and Titus were the equivalent of the modern-day pastor is the fact that both these brothers, like Paul, were itinerant. That is, they were travelling workers who moved about regularly from place to place planting and building up churches. Timothy and Titus were not pastors, they were apostles. As such, they were constantly on the go. Listen to what bishop Lightfoot has to say on this subject:

“It is the conception of a later age which represents Timothy as bishop of Ephesus, and Titus as bishop of Crete. Paul’s own language implies that the position which they held was temporary. In both cases their term of office is drawing to a close when the apostle writes.”

So if Timothy wasn’t the “pastor” of the church at Ephesus, who was? The obvious answer, which we do-it-by-the-book, Bible-believing evangelicals love to overlook, is simply this: nobody. The office of the pastor, as it is widely regarded and practiced throughout Christendom today, is nowhere to be found in the New Testament. Look long and hard, but nowhere will you find a single example of a first-century believer occupying such a role in the local church.

But please, dear reader, before you throw stones, allow me to say that I am all for leadership, authority, and pastors. But I am for them in their truly biblical, “organic” sense, that is all. To describe what I mean by that is not the point of this particular post, however. All I’m saying for now is that to label Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus as “pastoral epistles” is a mis-leading, and it stems from the way we read and interpret scripture through the lens of our present traditions and practices. Let us pray for the Lord to give us light that we may see these writings and the story they tell in their original meaning. No doubt a revolution awaits us in that direction.  

 


The practical benefit of a meeting where every member supplies

“Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”-Ephesians 4:15,16

Where there is a real priesthood of believers gathering together regularly to minister to the Lord and to each other, each member of the Body is pressed to know the Lord in a real and living way.

If I come to a meeting each week where there is no pastor or “minister” present to do the work of ministry that all the saints together are intended to do (see Ephesians 4), then I will be conscious every day of my responsibility to not come to the meeting “empy-handed” (see Deuteronomy 16:16,17).

If I know that I’m a member of Christ and that His full expression depends on my practical functioning as one of His Body parts then I will be driven to seek after and experience the Lord in such a way that I am filled with His riches, ready to share them with other brothers and sisters when we meet.

This is just one practical benefit of meetings where every member supplies something for the building up of the Body. There are many more. 🙂