Around 1828, some smart academics from Ireland got together to study the Bible. Their stated purpose was to glean from the Bible alone—without the influence of Church historians and denominational traditions—the specifics of things like end times prophesy, salvation, sin, God, Angels, the fall of man, the nature of the Godhead….
A Bible study that became a movement!
As they studied, they found themselves attracting groups of people who wanted to meet simply, as the Christians met in the book of Acts. Having all things common. Dedicating themselves to the teachings of the Apostles, the partnership in the work, a lifestyle of personal and corporate prayer, and the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42). Out of this study among some curious young intellectuals came a movement.
Small assemblies started popping up in storerooms, living rooms, barns, and parlors, all over Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, and over into Europe. Eventually, these New Testament style assemblies were formed on every continent (except maybe Antarctica).
They sometimes referred to each other as “brethren” or as “the brethren.” And since one of the major hubs was in Plymouth, some folks started calling them (mostly out of ridicule) “Plymouth Brethren.” It’s a name that has stuck with us for the better part of two centuries. We’re okay with it (we sometimes use it ourselves). But like the church at Antioch in the book of Acts, we’d rather simply be known as Christians.
Meeting simply unto the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Assemblies (local churches) like Asheville Gospel Chapel have been forming, growing, hiving off, forming sister assemblies ever since. Our particular group started sometime around 1946. Over the years, we’ve met in homes, in a building in West Asheville (we were several decades ahead of the hipsters), and now in our current Haw Creek chapel.
We believe in the autonomy of the local assembly. So, while our assembly is open to the assistance, insight, guidance, advice, and prayer support of other assemblies (and we do keep up good relationships with our sister assemblies), we are not under the authority of any denominational or organizational governing body. Each local assembly is under the Lord’s sole authority and guided the Bible’s instruction and by overseers (shepherds, elders) whom the Lord appoints among us. The characteristics of an overseer can be found in 1 Timothy and Titus.
Each local church has multiple overseers (this is important, since we do not want to be seen as a church that follows a man—except “the man Christ Jesus”). Also, our platform teaching (preaching) is done by a rotation of men who have been gifted to expound the Bible. Again, this is important, because it allows us to hear from multiple voices, so we don’t get caught up in one man’s emphasis, personal dogma, doctrinal rut, or even error. It’s a self-correcting system.
Via the gifting of the Holy Spirit, each believer is able to take part in the work. So we have evangelists, servers, pastors, helpers, discerners, teachers, encouragers, administrators, prayer warriors, givers…. We trust that the Spirit of God will provide the gifting (and the people) to do the work He desires in each assembly. Mostly, we seek His heart via Bible study and prayer, follow His lead vis-a-vis our individual gifting, stay out of His way, and do His work. At least, that’s the ideal.
Do this in remembrance of me.
Our first meeting of the week—on the first day of the week—is the Lord’s Supper. We spend an hour (give or take), led by the Spirit, giving honor and worship to the person of Jesus Christ. We sing songs. We pray. We read Bible passages. We bring insights. And we break the bread and pass it among us; and take the cup and pass it among us.
The cool thing is that it’s completely spontaneous (God forbid that we would try to script it). And yet, more often than not, a clear theme emerges. And we find that the hearts and minds of the Christians have all been taken to the same place by the Lord.
We recognize the symbolism of the bread and cup. The bread symbolizes the body of Christ. By forming it, baking it, and then breaking it, we recognize that He literally took a body and allowed it to be broken as an offering for sin. The cup—the fruit of the vine—symbolizes the blood of Christ. Leviticus tells us that the “life is in the blood.” Through these symbols, we are reminded that the Son of God (who is spirit) was made in the form of a man as a crucial part of God’s plan for bringing humans back from their sin-damaged existence into eternal fellowship in God’s own household. And although he is immortal, he (Jesus) died—literally laid down his life—and was raised again.
We’d love to show you.
We’d love to introduce you to our way of meeting. Our way of doing fellowship. Our approach to worship (remembrance). If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, looking for a simple, authentic approach to “doing church,” we’d love to have you give our group a try.
If you haven’t put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we’d love to talk with you about yourself, your nature, and your need for a savior (of which there is only one—Jesus).
Give us a call. Or check out our meeting schedule and join us!