In the Greek New Testament, “church” is the word used for the assembly of those who are called by Jesus Christ. Similarly, in the Reforming Church the church is the community of those who are called to follow Jesus. Not by invitation, but by calling, the followers of Jesus are set aside to be a blessing, as in the sense of God’s covenant with Abraham – to be a blessing to the nations.
The church’s primary mission is to be in the world as Jesus was in the world: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the alien, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and visiting those in prison (Matthew 25:31f). In his first sermon in Nazareth, Jesus echoed the prophetic oracle, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18, NRSV).
This isn’t to say the Reforming Church does not assemble to worship. It is rather that worship for the Reforming Church finds its meaning in its mission. Recalling the prophetic oracle of Isaiah, God puzzles over the nature of Israel’s sacred processions and offerings of sacrifices, proclaiming “learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17, NRSV).
In the Epistle to the Hebrews it is written, “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (10:24, 25, NRSV). The church gathers to be encouraged in its mission. In the Reforming Church,the Followers of Jesus encourage each other, preparing one another for the church’s mission. And not just preparing for its mission, but also sending the called to serve in the church’s mission.
The church is the fellowship of the called who gather to be equipped for service, to commission its servants and to send them to serve. And in so doing worship God.