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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Vital Signs: When we gather

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.  

Mark 1:21–22


Sometimes the Gospel accounts describe Jesus’ lessons without the location. On other occasions, like this one, we have the venue and the reaction, though without the content.

This report of Jesus teaching, minus the subject matter, helps us reflect on the place and importance of the times when we gather.

Whenever Jesus’ life has a repeated pattern, we can especially look for intent and purpose. Clearly, the Master Teacher repeatedly used gathered teaching opportunities. He used the classrooms of his day – and created his own, too.

Attending synagogues on the Sabbath was part of Jesus’ pattern and he frequently taught the established gathered communities there (Luke 4:16). But, beyond the official designated teaching spaces, Jesus taught in everyday places, including mountains, houses, and boats, in cities, towns, and the countryside.

Last week, we emphasised Jesus seeking out quiet places for private prayer. Today’s reflection provides a needed counterpoint, because a strategic part of our journey, as his disciples, happens when we gather.

In our latest resource, Vital Signs, we consider the importance of meeting and gathering together.

We meet because:

  • There is the instruction, assumption, and pattern in the Bible to do so.
  • When we do, we can bring glory to God and build one another up.
  • There is special spiritual significance to being an interdependent group together: we’re one body, and each play different parts.
  • The call to Christian community is not about what’s in it for us individually, but about how others might need us.
  • It allows us to spur one another on and encourage one another for the opportunities and challenges we face in our scattered places.
  • It’s an opportunity to recalibrate – to get back a godly perspective when so much else in our life does the opposite.

Our meeting is more than the sum of the parts. We sense something of the presence of the Spirit and so, in gathering together, we are renewed and revived for whatever lies ahead of us in the rest of the week

Ultimately, none of us should stay in the classroom. Our gathered times should equip us for our scattered times – in thousands of different everyday contexts.

We meet to practise being Christlike in order to be better at it wherever we find ourselves in the week.


Ken Benjamin 

Director of Church Relationships at LICC and author of the Vital Signs book

Check out Vital Signs to discover how to put whole-life discipleship at the heart of your church

Which of the reasons for gathering is the most significant for you and your community, right now? 



  1. Great content and inspiration to meet together- thank you for this.
    Sunday services do go some way to enable this to happen, but a small group is needed even more. As a non retired person who has health problems which make going out in the evenings very hard, I’ve missed out on this now for many years. I’d love to know if any churches have tackled this issue, thanks.

    By Sarah Brown  -  13 May 2024
  2. To meet with God as a worshipping body so we can encourage and be encouraged

    By Karen Cox  -  13 May 2024
  3. Meeting to recalibrate is the most important for our church right now! We’re a church in London and so we don’t see each other much in the week! We put a lot of effort into creating gathered worship to recalibrate – to remind us of who God is and who we are in the light of that!

    By Steve  -  13 May 2024

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