Key issues for many modern churches are the quality of worship and preaching. However, there is no command in the scriptures that Christians should meet for worship each week. Communal worship is good, but it should not be our first priority. (Our whole lives should be an act of worship).

In previous centuries, when very few people could read, regular teaching was very important. The priest/minister taught people what the bible teaches. In the modern world, abundant access to tapes, videos, television and the internet makes regular access to preaching a much less important priority.

The scripture that should determine the priorities for church leaders is Jesus' command:

A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:34,35).
The problem with this command is that this type of love does not come naturally. The normal workings of human nature tend to push people apart. Christians have to be taught to love one another. Participating in worship will not make us love one another (loving one another may improve our worship). Listening to good sermons will not make us love one another. Christians will generally need to be taught to love each other. Given Jesus command, the first priority of elders should be to teach their people to love each other.

In Hebrews 10:25, we are told to keep on meeting together, but the reason for meeting is not for worship. It is to "spur one another on towards love and good deeds" and to "encourage one another". These things should take priority over worship when the church meets together.

Jesus spent a large part of his ministry discipling the twelve and teaching them to love each other. A perusal of the last couple of chapters of each of Paul's letters shows that he put considerable energy into building relationships between people in the churches (eg Phil 4:2). He does not just teach theology, he also teaches the believers how to relate to each other. Building relationships should be a priority for elders.

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