What is 'a local Church'?
In Matthew 16:18 the Lord Jesus Christ speaks of 'my church'. Despite all the denominations we have today, there was originally only one 'church' or 'ekklesia' (ek- out of; kaleo - to call) which referred to the first group of 'called out' believers in the New Testament (Acts 15:14). It was further used in a 'local' sense as describing believers gathered together in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ alone (Matthew 18:20). Throughout early New Testament times after the day of Pentecost many such gatherings were established throughout the known world. Never does the word 'church' refer to a building or a specific locality. It is made up of individual people - believers on the Lord Jesus Christ.
With early persecution the church spread from Jerusalem to outlying regions as believers were forced to flee for their lives. Though originally following the principles set down by the early apostles and teachers, these groups gradually began to drift away doctrinally from the teachings of the Word of God. By the latter part of the first century, there were already many sects, divisions, and denominations. However, there has always been those who sought to follow the original precepts set down by scripture.
With the Protestant Reformation in the 15th century, many fundamental truths of the Bible were 'rediscovered', including justification by faith alone. The 1800's also saw many believers in Ireland, England and other parts of Europe return to scriptural principles long forgotten or
replaced by tradition and manmade religion. Many truths were restored, such as the rapture of the church, the priesthood of all believers (no clergy), believer's baptism by immersion, and the commission to evangelize the world, among others.
The 'Gospel Halls' have been named such, not as a denominational distinction, but simply to refer to places where the Gospel is preached and the New Testament teachings of the Bible followed. Similarly, those who gather in gospel halls are simply called Christians or believers. There is
nothing in the Bible that dictates the use of any sectarian name.
Recognizing the Lordship of Christ among His people and depending on the leadership of the Holy Spirit, believers have since been gathering in 'gospel halls' worldwide. There is no clerical structure, no umbrella organization, no common treasury. These believers simply gather together
in their specific localities to carry out the scriptural teachings of the Bible, to seek to win others for Christ, and to grow in their spiritual experience as children of God.
join the local gathering and partake with the others and (2) that the assembly would not unwittingly allow unbelievers or false teachers into the company. The meeting is simple, yet meaningful. Believers sit around a table on which there is a load of bread and a cup of wine. One by one, various prayers of thanksgiving and remembrance are offered, followed by the passing of the emblems from hand to hand. At the end of the meeting a free-will monetary offering is collected from assembly members as a practical token of worship and thanskgiving. The meeting is typically followed with a time of refreshment and fellowship whereby newcomers can become acquainted with the local believers and discuss the scriptural basis of this 'worship' meeting further. Thus, all are welcome to attend.
The 'Breaking of Bread' (sometimes called the Lord's Supper) is a very special meeting for believers. It is kept in response to the Lord's request as in Luke 22:19-20, " … this do in remembrance of Me." The followers of Christ have been remembering Christ's death every Lord's Day (Sunday) for over 2000 years as indicated in the scriptures (Acts 20:7). This practice had always been associated with an established local 'church' or assembly of believers, never arbitrarily when any group of believers meet together. There were often learners or observers who attended these meetings (1 Corinthians 14:16, 23- 24), though not actively participating. The reason for 'sitting back' is two-fold: (1) that observers may witness how the meeting is conducted and decide for themselves if they would like to
Also, there is no pastor or high ranking clergy. This is because the Bible teaches that there should be a number of 'elders' who care for the well-being of the local testimony. Similarly, the 'priesthood of all believers' is practiced. This allows each individual member to participate in their own unique way, using a variety of 'gifts' for the upbuilding of the church.
You will find that there is no musical accompaniment or vocal/instrumental entertainment. Instead, you will find believers singing from their hearts to the Lord without the distraction and pride often accompanying talented performances. They simply seek to please the Lord in their deportment and activities, finding great joy in knowing that they have scriptural precedent and teaching for their practices.
The Lord Jesus Christ was deeply interested in teaching young children about Himself. Thus, there is a special time set apart each Sunday at Gospel Halls for children and teens. Please check on the various programs offered at different Gospel Halls. Usually, there is singing,
games, competitions, prizes, as well as classes for different age levels and abilities. As a service to parents, the children are often picked up by car, van or bus free of charge, but we certainly encourage parents to come along and be involved as well.
Principles of Gathering
Sometimes people are surprised when they first attend a public meeting at a Gospel Hall. There are two things that they may notice immediately. First, the women in assembly fellowship will be wearing a head covering. This may be a hat, tam, mantilla, scarf, etc. depending on one's preference. This scriptural practice (1 Corinthians 11) was followed for centuries and has only recently been discarded
Prayer and Bible Study/Teaching
Another essential meeting is one set aside (at least one day every week) for prayer and conversational Bible Study or ministry (teaching) from God's Word. This was also a regular practice of the early believers (Acts 2:42). There is always so much to pray about and certainly a lot to learn from God's Word! Please be our guest to attend this meeting and be blessed by interactive Bible study.
Check the individual schedules for meeting times. You will usually hear two speakers presenting a short Gospel message based on verses in the Bible. There are no altar calls or collections. Your decision to repent and believe the Gospel is a personal one, but there are those who would love to answer your questions and concerns. Please feel free to come along and hear the good news of the gospel!
Conversational Bible Study
All are also invited to join in weekly Bible studies at the various Gospel Halls. Each Sunday (often during the Sunday School hour) the Christians gather around God's Word and discuss it, verse-by-verse and chapter-by-chapter in a conversational manner. During the year, there is usually a progression through different books of the Bible. Bring a Bible and join us for an uplifting look at God's Word!
by many church groups in modern times. Our 'sisters' count it a privilege to obey the Word of God in this way. Please do not take this as a 'dress code' for those visiting or interested in learning more about God.
You may notice that the women do not take public part in the meetings (1 Corinthians 14:34). There is no inequality intimated through this practice. In fact, there could be no scriptural gathering possible without women, and they hold a variety of extremely important roles, including that of teaching in a private sphere. Again, women are highly valued in the Word of God, and this role distinction is necessary to reflect the full expression of the body of Christ through the scriptural gathering of His church.
Yes, the New Testament assembly is truly unique. Acknowledging the Lordship of Christ in this way and striving to follow the Lord's original intentions for His church truly enriches Christian experience and growth. Are you interested in returning to the original pattern for the local church set down in the Word of God? Does following New Testament principles of gathering OUT of religion and UNTO the lovely Name of the Lord Jesus Christ appeal to you? We hope so. Come and visit a Gospel Hall near you and learn more about why we gather as we do!
Many Gospel Halls encourage various youth activities, Bible studies, and outreach opportunities. Check out the Gospel Hall nearest you!
The New Testament Assembly