It's interesting that in the Church of Christ, we claim to represent and follow the biblical "pattern" for worship that is supposedly so easy to find in the New Testament yet is spread out through several different books by different authors. But we ignore the "patterns" that exist.
For example, let's look at two passages: Acts 2:42-47 and 1 Cor. 14:26-40.
Acts 2:42-47, of course, relates the church experience of the very first church. I fall in line with those who see no reason why this report shouldn't be normative for all churches. Several things describe this church:
- They are devoted to the apostles' teaching, fellowship, sharing in meals and the Lord's Supper, and prayer.
- They seek God's presence and are filled with awe.
- The take care of each other in radical ways.
- They are together and share community in ways we crave but largely don't experience.
These two examples are found in actual passages where details unfold. They are not scattered throughout the New Testament and we do not have to pick through a verse here and a verse there to "uncover" the "clear"(?) pattern.
What if we focused on these patterns? One thing we might learn is that there never really was a uniform "pattern" that all churches followed. There appears to be a more free-flowing attitude of sharing, fellowship, and ministering together. This was, of course, expressed in many different ways.
What can we do to recover these elements of the early church today?