When we assemble on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, there are certain activities that are engaged in regularly. You might sometimes hear these referred to as the “five acts of worship.” Why do we always do these five things? Well, on a base level, we do them because Jesus commanded us to worship “in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24) The meaning being that we are to be engaged in spirit (i.e. focused with our mind and emotions) and acting upon only those things that we have authority to do (cf. 2 John 9).
Praying – There are several passages that show us how integral prayer was to the early church (Acts 2:42; 12:12). One of the reasons the Hebrew writer warns against forsaking the assembly is because, when we come together, we “exhort one another.” (Hebrews 10:25) Prayer is a powerful method of doing just that. James expresses the command to “pray for one another” in James 5:16 and reminds us that “the prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Prayer is how we communicate to God, through Christ (cf. Hebrews 4:14-16). If we pray according to His will, we’re told He hears us! (1 John 5:14)
Singing – We often hear the argument that the Bible doesn’t say not to use mechanical instruments in worship. Using human reasoning, it seems like a harmless practice. After all, it makes the music sound better! The Scriptures, do, however, tell us not to use mechanical instruments in that what we are to offer is spelled out very specifically. “Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:19) “In your heart” relates to the spirit or mind of man which is the instrument God wants us to play. Unlike the Old Testament worship which focused heavily on physical objects and routines, we worship God today “in spirit.” The focus is not on making sure we produce a flawless tone, but that our mind is engaged in expressing sincere praise to God and love for our fellow man.
The Lord’s Supper – Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, reminds us of the purpose for which Christ instituted this memorial. By partaking of the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine, we remind ourselves of the body that suffered so greatly for our atonement and the blood that flowed from His many wounds (cf. Hebrews 9:22-28). We do this “until He comes.” We continually remind ourselves each first day of the week (cf. Acts 20:7; 2:42), because, when we forget what Christ has done, our love and zeal will slowly fade away. Consider Hebrews 12:1-3, 2 Peter 1:9, John 14:15, and 1 John 4:19.
Giving – The early church laid by in store each Lord’s day (1 Corinthians 16:1-2) for the purpose of taking care of saints in need and supporting those who were preaching the gospel (cf. Romans 15:25-27; Philippians 4:15-16). When giving, we are commanded to do so “as we have purposed in our hearts” and “cheerfully.” (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:7) It is an act of love and gratitude. We must remember, too, that while as individual Christians we are to be generous and charitable to all men (cf. James 1:27; Galatians 6:10), when we give to God, said money becomes His (cf. Acts 5:1-4). God has given very specific instructions as to how we are to utilize church funds.
Teaching – God once spoke concerning His people Israel saying, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6) Paul exhorted the young evangelist, Timothy, by telling him to, “Preach the word!” (2 Timothy 4:2) Faith, we are told, is produced by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17) and, without faith, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). One of the other reasons the Hebrew writer warns us against forsaking the assembly is because, through them, we “stir up love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24) What a blessing it is when we can help each other grow in faith through preaching and Bible study.
Playgrounds, sports teams, musical performances, coffee and donuts, while all good things in and of themselves, are foreign to the Biblical pattern for our assemblies. We must respect God’s wishes keeping in mind that when we come together, WE are not the audience; HE is! May we always strive to do all things “decently and in order” so that our worship will ascend to God as a sweet-smelling savor. (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:40; Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 13:15-16)