“It’s not about the Huddle”
Over the years I’ve heard the above idea expressed in various forms. The idea goes something like this. The assemblies are like the huddle in a football game. They may be important, but they aren’t the game. The game is when we break the huddle and go out into the world to live like we are supposed to live. The game is being on the front lines of the world and teaching others.
I understand that meeting together as God’s people and congregational activity is not the only facet of what it means to be Christians. We cannot leave our Christianity at the door of the meeting place to go live any way we want to. We ought always to be aware of our need to reach out to others. No one who knows Christ is going to think that Christianity is only about meeting in the assemblies a couple times a week. We aren’t saved because we meet; we meet because we are saved. Yet that’s what makes our assemblies so precious, to be valued and cherished.
I know its just an analogy, but analogies have their limits. I get the huddle analogy. I played football for years and was part of hundreds of huddles on both sides of the ball, even calling many of them. But what happens in football huddles is only minimally comparable to what happens in our assemblies. Most huddles involve calling plays that we had practiced many times. There may be a word of encouragement, but the purpose of the huddle is to make sure everyone knows the next play. The huddle is not the place to teach the players how to play the game or what to do—if they don’t already know what they are doing, they shouldn’t be in that huddle! And here the analogy falters.
In one sense, the analogy be may be that assemblies help Christians understand their roles better so they can go out into the world better equipped. Even then, the purpose of a huddle was never to teach roles or how to play positions. Assemblies are much more than calling a play that everyone knows well, yelling, and clapping hands to go running out into the world. That’s about where the analogy ends. Again, the point is well taken that we shouldn’t just be church-goers who fail to live out discipleship in the world.
However, congregational activity and assemblies are just as much a “part of the game” as is going out into the world and reaching out for Christ individually. Assemblies aren’t called just to go over the next play and break a loud huddle to get pumped up. They are called because, in God’s wisdom, they fill a necessary part of the Christian’s life that cannot otherwise be met, and they deserve more dignity than being reduced to a football analogy.
God designed local churches for the purpose of building up and strengthening one another, and even this goes beyond assembly times. Yet assemblies are the arena in which we “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24). As one brother put it, this is an “arena for action, not merely a huddle.” The epistles spend a good bit of time teaching us how to build each other up and grow into maturity (cf. Eph. 4:11-16). Instruction is given, not just to individuals, but to the churches as local fellowships. For the Christian, the joint participation with other Christians and the assemblies are a major part of our lives wherein we help each other grow up in Christ and provide for each other the tools of deeper service. Let’s not reduce this to just a huddle or a practice session. It’s a major part of who we are. The congregation, again more than just the assemblies, ought to be a significant part of every Christian’s life.
We are blessed to praise God together. There is something special about both speaking to one another in song and making melody in our hearts to the Lord (Eph 5:19). This engenders a thankfulness and love that we jointly express to God in one voice. Praising God in song and prayer is never a sideline activity; it is the greatest activity of all, and we are blessed to be able to do it together.
Assemblies are a manifestation of deep, abiding fellowship and love that we have with both God and one another. For example, the Lord’s Supper, taken together, is one such demonstration of our communion with God and one another. The Lord’s Supper, understood in its biblical context, is one of the greatest activities children of God can engage in as it focuses on what Christ did for us, it proclaims His death and resurrection, and it looks forward to His return.
Let’s be careful about reducing our concept of the assembly to more of a rote necessity to hurry up and get out of the way rather than a major part of what and who we are. Thank God for giving us one another.