(Part 3 in a series on the implications of mutual edification as the purpose of the gathering of the church): I have argued previously that the purpose for the gathering of the church in the New Testament is mutual edification (1 Cor 14:26)â€”each believer building up other believers and being built up himself or herself (see here, here, and here). If most churches understand their purpose in gathering to be something other than edification (i.e. worship or evangelism), then this change in understanding will have significant implications for the contemporary church. These implications fall into both philosophical as well as practical categories.
This series will examine several of the implications of mutual edification for the gathering of the church.
Third, if the purpose of the gathering of the church is mutual edification, then much about the way believers come together should change. For example, mutual edification depends upon the work of the Holy Spirit among a group of believers. This requires that the Spirit is free to work in the lives of individuals, both before the meeting and during the meeting. In 1 Corinthians 14:26, Paul recognizes that the believers were coming to their meeting prepared to offer gifts of the Spirit, and he says this is acceptable as long as the gifts edify the body. Later, he also recognizes that there may be times when the Holy Spirit inspires someone to speak during the meeting. This is also to be accepted.
However, the current trend is toward â€œexcellenceâ€ during the gathering of the church. Professional ministers plan each part of the â€œserviceâ€ in order that the activities flow smoothly with very little â€œdown time.â€ While this type of meeting makes for great observation, it does not allow for participation, which is necessary for the various members of the body to build up one another during the meeting.
In fact, it could be that times of silence are necessary to permit the Spirit to direct those whom he desires to participate during the meeting. We do not have to worry about someone planning the meeting, or someone being “in charge”. We can trust the Holy Spirit to direct his people as he sees fit. And, if someone does not act according to the Spirit or does not act in a way that edifies the body, then the people are to judge among themselves after that person speaks.
This is what it means to be decent and in order according to Paul. What do we consder decent and in order? Do we strive for excellence, or can we allow the Spirit to plan our meetings?
Implications of Mutual Edification Series:
1. Mutual Edification and Individualism
2. Mutual Edification and Leadership
3. Mutual Edification and Excellence
4. Mutual Edification and Reverence
5. Mutual Edification and Activities