The church is not simply a club of like-minded people who meet until they are strong enough to go it alone. Nor is it about being part of a social club of like-minded individuals. Being a Christian is all about being part of God’s community. The church is the family of God sharing one Father, the body and bride of Christ and temple of the Holy Spirit.
—Robin Parry, Worshiping Trinity: Coming Back to the Heart of Worship, 53
The doctrine of the Trinity highlights the perfect unity of purpose, will, and mission of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, expressed through their distinct roles in the economy of salvation. Through union with Christ in communion with the Holy Spirit, human beings are invited to share in this life of joyful relationality, shared purpose, and other-directed love.
—John D. Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Notre Dame, 1997), 295
In worship, the members of the church focus on God; in instruction and fellowship, they focus on themselves and fellow Christians; in evangelism, they turn their attention to non-Christians.
—Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 1066-1067
All evangelistic activities of the church have as their goal finding more worshipers for God; all edification activities of the church have as their goal making better worshipers for God.
The only parochial [church] activities which have any real justification are those which spring from worship and in their turn nourish it.
—Jean-Jacques von Allmen, Worship: Its Theology and Practice, 55-56
Worship is the only Christian activity which is an end in itself.
The Spirit makes known the personal presence in and with the Christian and the church of the risen, reigning Saviour, the Jesus of history, who is the Christ of faith. Scripture shows . . . that since the Pentecost of Acts 2 this, essentially, is what the Spirit is doing all the time as He empowers, enables, purges, and leads generation after generation of sinners to face the reality of God. And He does it in order that Christ may be known, loved, trusted, honored and praised, which is the Spirit’s aim and purpose throughout as it is the aim and purpose of God the Father, too. This is what, in the last analysis, the Spirit’s new covenant ministry is all about.
—J. I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit, 47
Just as Jesus’ baptism and anointing with the Spirit in Luke 3 is to be understood as standing behind and explaining everything else, from His “Messianic” proclamation in Luke 4 to His messianic death and resurrection, so the coming of the Spirit in Acts 2 is to be understood as standing behind and explaining everything else that the church then does, particularly its worship, its mission and its bold stand in obeying God rather than human authorities. Thus, when Luke later tells us that the Christians gathered together were all filled with the Spirit and spoke God’s word with boldness, this should be understood not as a fresh and momentary filling, repeating Pentecost as it were on a strictly temporary basis, but as a fresh manifestation of what had been the case all along since Pentecost itself. The church from Acts 2 onwards is the Spirit-led church, with worship as an integral part of its proper life.
—N.T. Wright, “Worship and the Spirit in the New Testament”, 4
The need for a theology about the Day of Pentecost is seen by reflecting on how readily Christians misunderstand the nature of the church. For many people the church is a voluntary organization of individuals. . . .
The church is a community called together by the Spirit of the Risen One. It is not something we choose to do (and equally well could choose not to do), but something to which we are summoned. The Greek word for church (ekklēsia from which we derive “ecclesiastical”) means “those who have been called forth or summoned,” much as one is summoned to appear in a court of law. And we are called as a body of interdependent parts, not as separable individuals. The free-spirited individualism of our age is a manifestation of Babel, not Pentecost, as should be evident from the intransigent divisions and intractable conflicts such individualism fosters. The Risen One, who is present at all times and in all places, seeks to bind together by the action of the Spirit all things that have been wrongly separated. Participation therefore is not something we do on the basis of personal choice or need; participation in the Body of Christ is inherent in being Christian. The church, not the individual, is the irreducible unit of Christianity. Further, the church is to be a sign of the future: No matter how haltingly and imperfectly, the church seeks to enact in the present world the justice and grace that characterize the eternal reign of God. Therefore Christians participate in the church not so much for what they can get as for what they can give, for what they can offer as an alternative to the dominant ways of the world.
—Laurence Hill Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, 76-77
The journey begins when Christians leave their homes and beds. They leave, indeed, their life in this present and concrete world, and whether they have to drive fifteen miles or walk a few blocks, a sacramental act is already taking place, an act which is the very condition of everything else that is to happen. For they are now on their way to constitute the Church, or to be more exact, to be transformed into the Church of God. They have been individuals, some white, some black, some poor, some rich, they have been the ‘natural’ world and a natural community. And now they have been called to “come together in one place,” to bring their lives, their very “world” with them and to be more than what they were: a new community with a new life.
—Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World, 27