Let me say this at the outset. If the gathering of the church you are part of is not equipping you to take the Gospel to the lost, it is failing in its calling. Utterly and completely. It doesn't matter if you have super preaching and follow the "regulative principle of worship", if Christians can come Sunday after Sunday and walk away with nothing more than some notes about the sermon on their bulletin, you aren't a Biblical gathering of the church. It also doesn't matter if you have a participatory meeting where everyone gets a say if no one gets equipped. We cannot lose sight of the primary purpose of God's collected people, namely to be the vehicle God uses to carry out His purpose in the world.
I like what Dave Black had to say regarding the church and her mission in a new entry, The Church Is A Granary
We err when we think of the church as a storehouse for converts instead of as a distribution plant. Every believer must be equipped to become a witness for Christ. And every church must become a center of Gospel distribution. Jesus sent out the 12 and the 72. I have the deep conviction that every deficiency in the church can be traced back to a failure to follow the New Testament teaching and pattern about missions. We may be completely orthodox in our theology and yet fall completely short of the New Testament teaching in our practice. Our faith must be a living thing, not just faith in itself. The earliest Christians were wholly dedicated, sold out to Jesus Christ and His cause. And because they were committed men and women, they expected their converts to be equally committed to the Great Commission, to propagate the Gospel, and to serve as Jesus served. Their leaders trained the entire church to be fulltime ministers rather than selecting a few who would devote themselves to "fulltime Christian ministry."The church is indeed a distribution plant. We are supposed to be making disciples to send them out to make disciples, not making disciples to show up on Sunday. As we make and equip disciples, the community of the saints is what should be formed for the purpose of equipping, encouraging and sending.
Community and mission are not enemies. To the contrary, if the church is functioning correctly and hoping to impact the world for the Kingdom they must go hand in hand. I tend to focus and think a lot about the gathering, not just the Sunday meeting but the people of God living lives together. That is so crucial to the health of the church but if that gathering doesn't lead to the going, it is worthless no matter how Biblical we think it is. We oftebn get caught up in the "doing church right". If we can just make the church gathering more organic or more reformed or more "spirit driven" or more participatory, we will be OK. We need to have our end on the end result we desire first instead of the process. If you try to build a house by slapping up walls without a blueprint, you are going to get a haphazard house that will fall down sooner or later.
Conversely if we neglect the community of the saints, mission simply will never happen. Just assuming that any old church gathering is fine as long as we are personally "missional" grossly misunderstands the purpose of the church and the vital role it fills in mission. The church is the equipping and encouraging system that God has ordained. How and why and what we do when we gather has a major impact on how we carry out (or don't) the mission God has called every single Christian to. Some, I would say many, models of church gathering not only do little to equip believers, they tend to discourage mission from individual believers in favor of sub-contracting mission work to the "properly" appointed professionals, leaving most Christians on the sidelines as observers and check writers.
I would also clarify again that what really matters is the community of the church more than any regularly scheduled "official" gathering. The community of believers who make up the church is the thing, not gathering as the church and hoping community happens.
I am not sure this post makes any sense at all. It seems a jumble of stuff that doesn't flow very well. That might be because I am having a hard time even processing all of this yet again as I come around to this topic over and over. I still have more to write about this but I am afraid of adding to this post and making it worse. Certainly not my best effort in the blogging world!