the weblog of Alan Knox

More about edification when the church meets

Posted by on Nov 8, 2007 in blog links, edification, gathering | 14 comments

A few days ago, in my post “What if we met to edify one another?“, Jeff from “Thoughts from Jeff” left several good comments. In one of his comments, he listed some things that he would like to see happen when the church meets together. This is his list:

Thus, the meeting would be the following:
- a time of gathering (music & fellowship)
- introduction to the theme for the day
- scriptural reading
- sacraments
- sharing time (individuals/groups sharing what is occurring – especially in light of the theme)
- connecting points (challenge of what we are learning/sharing to what is happening in the community)
- message board where all celebrations/prayers of group individuals are at in their journey
- meal (individuals interacting)
- body prayer
- blessing (individuals encourage/build up/pray for individuals and groups to have a “successful” week in the community

I asked him if he would explain each item and how those items would lead to edification. He has done just that in a post called “Dreaming of Church“. Jeff did a great job of explaining what he would like to see happen during a church meeting, and I appreciate the thought and work that went into his post.

I wonder, would anyone else like to list one or more things that you would like to see happen during the church meeting?


14 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 11-8-2007

    exposition and proclamation of the Word.

  2. 11-8-2007

    Jim,

    Thanks for the comment. While in the context of the church I usually call it teaching instead of proclamation or preaching, I agree that this is important for building up one another. I think Jeff included it in one of his items during the meeting of the church as well.

    -Alan

  3. 11-8-2007

    Alan,

    I suggest that we need to be careful not to simply dress up “what we have always done”,in new clothes. In other words a new framework supporting the same building with a new coat of paint.

    The question you asked was, “What if we met to edify one another?”

    Edify one another about what?

    It’s important that we take very seriously what Paul said in 1 Cor. 10:23,”All things are lawful, but NOT ALL THINGS ARE PROFITABLE. All things are lawful, but NOT ALL THINGS edify”.

    ALL THINGS are not necessarily edifying to the congregation of God’s people, or glorifying to their King. If what we do when we meet does not accomplish these, as well as others to do with our relationship (one anothers)as a body of believers (Heb. 10:23-25) they are improper.

    Leadership must be acting to lead the people to this end, and for their health as a congregation (Eph.4:12-16. Ultimately that must lead to a congregation whose lives witness to the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ.

    If what we propose is “lawful”, but doesn’t lead to these ends, it is probably subjectively motivated and not good for the Body. If it’s simply about everyone doing his/her own thing, it is very possible that the meetings will actually hinder the very cause of Christ, even though what is done may not be “unlawful”.

    I have to agree with Jim U. on what I consider the most important point of meeting, and answers the question I posed earlier, Christ centered “exposition and proclamation of the Word”, or teaching, which itself is NOT about proving ones “spirituality”, expertise in public speaking,interpretation, languages,etc., but a simple desire to speak what God is speaking through His Word, NOT what we DECIDE He is speaking.

    Under the moderation of the elder/overseer, the “two or three” may be involved,but not necessarily, the congregation may want to discuss, ask questions, pray or praise, as the case may be.

    Congregational needs may need to be made known for being met by those the Lord prompts afterwards.

  4. 11-8-2007

    Aussie:

    I would love if you flush the following out for me to make sure that I am following you:

    I have to agree with Jim U. on what I consider the most important point of meeting, and answers the question I posed earlier, Christ centered “exposition and proclamation of the Word”, or teaching, which itself is NOT about proving ones “spirituality”, expertise in public speaking,interpretation, languages,etc., but a simple desire to speak what God is speaking through His Word, NOT what we DECIDE He is speaking.

  5. 11-8-2007

    Teaching = a time of teaching where the pastors/elders or others would go through Scripture to instruct the body, not necessarily just to teach on an academic point but practically as well. It was always good to have someone (not just an elder) at my first church teach on how to read the bible or understand it on a larger level. It bordered on hermeneutics but it was really teaching how to make sense of the whole in light of the parts. But I digress, I always like to be taught by someone who has intently studied Scripture.

  6. 11-8-2007

    Alan,

    Responding to Jeff: Rather than write a whole screed, check out the latest on Erics blog, Hammer and Nail.

  7. 11-8-2007

    Teaching is very important. However, I do not think that a reliance on a master teacher – or even a group of master teachers – is necessarily the best way to build up the church toward maturity. Relying on master teachers may help some – or even all – to an extent. But, as I understand it, edification requires every follower of Jesus to exercise his or gifts in order (Eph 4:16). So, while it is important to allow more mature believers to teach, it is also just as important to allow less mature believers to exercise their gifts when the church meets.

    -Alan

  8. 11-9-2007

    Aussie:

    Could you (someone) give me a link. I am not familiar with Eric o hammer / Nail .. sorry.

  9. 11-9-2007

    While I normally am quite in agreement with Aussie John, I’m not sure I’m understanding something correctly here.

    What I see in the descriptions of gatherings in 1 Corinthians doesn’t seem to indicate centralized teaching or preaching around any text.

    I think it’s a misplaced emphasis to say that “exposition and proclamation of the Word” is the central aspect of our gatherings.

    Nor am I sure that elders “moderate” in the context of 1 Corinthians. The words of prophets are subject to evaluation, but this is no different than what was required of prophets under the old covenant.

    Sorry to voice disagreement with you, Aussie John! :) (I guess I’m disagreeing with Ed [tenjuices], as well in this.) Maybe it’s semantics, or I’m misunderstanding the point you were trying to make.

    As for me, I have been taught by people who intently studied the scripture. I would much rather be taught by one who is walking with the Spirit of God. And no, in my opinion, that’s not a false dichotomy. ;)

  10. 11-9-2007

    Jeff,

    Eric is a friend of mine who blogs at Hammer and Nail.

    Steve,

    Thanks for continuing this discussion. I hope others will answer you and we’ll be able to understand one another on this point.

    -Alan

  11. 11-9-2007

    Alan,

    Jeff! Link is on Alan’s page.

    Steve! It seems that confusion from my comments is about semantics, or maybe not.

    Maybe I write upside down as well as live there.

    Surely what the scriptures teach on any subject is the major starting point from which edification begins (e.g.Rom.14:19). This passage would indicate that depending on our speech, our actions, attitudes etc., we can either edify or destroy.

    Until the day we die we need to be continually “built up” (edified) in maturing our relationship with Christ, towards each other, and in our understanding of our role, which Peter describes as “living stones” in the “spiritual house” (the ekklesia).

    Ephesians 4 shows us that Christ gave certain “gifts” (domata = gifts of persons)for the “building up of the Body of Christ”, by “equipping them for the work of service”.

    What I have just said does not centralize, nor limit what is done in a meeting, or who speaks, it simply means that in any given meeting the only Shepherd we have is given the central place which belongs to Him, and that His word is regarded as the reference point for the material which is being used to built up the Body of Christ.

    When I used the term “moderate” = (set the temper) I gave the alternative “oversee” meaning to simply watch over, NOT control, the meeting as one who loves God’s sheep, and cares whether the behaviour (especially of strangers), the activities, etc. are edifying, and especially that false teaching doesn’t enter the situation. It is a very naive Christian who thinks there are no “wolves” who appear to be sound Christians, who love attending meetings.

    Hopefully there will be discerning others, who will be doing the same.

    After all, Paul answers his own question in 1 Cor.14:26 “What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble….”, with the words, “let ALL things be done for edification”, and he was speaking in the context of the gathered congregation.

    But,I’m sure he WAS NOT saying “let all things be done by formal teaching”!

    My own life’s experience has taught me that we a can be destroyers by having gatherings which are no more than opportunities to “do our own thing”, or are we can be edifiers/builders, by doing God’s thing according to His word.

    All of the “one another” Scriptures with which we are exhorted, contribute to edifying one another.

    “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, ACCORDING TO THE PROPER WORKING OF EACH INDIVIDUAL PART, CAUSES THE GROWTH OF THE BODY FOR THE BUILDING UP OF ITSELF IN LOVE”.
    (Eph.4:14-16)

    Is God using us to build up His people? Is what we call ‘loving one another’ really ‘edifying one another’, or is it simply pleasing ourselves, and satisfying our own selfishly perceived needs?

  12. 11-9-2007

    Alan:

    Thanks for the info. I went to the site.

    Aussie:

    Thanks for link info as well. I am going to have to mull on your post for awhile.

    My initial thought is that we are making this way more complicated than it needs to be.

  13. 11-10-2007

    Aussie John,

    Thanks for the time taken to clarify. I don’t think I disagree with what you’re saying. Sometimes I phrase things a little differently, but I think we’re probably a lot closer than I thought at first on this particular topic.

    steve :)

  14. 11-12-2007

    Had this discussion in a small group this weekend where the question was posed, “What’s the point of meeting?”

    In my experience, meetings have felt fruitful when there is a sense that all have benefitted in some way. This may be a function of the teaching, but that sense of all being edified usually is more evident where there has been a face to face exchange between those present in which the “unity of the spirit” is maintained.

    I believe our hearts need a sense that the meeting has been a moment together in the Presence of God. At least two things support that experience. One that each heart walked in knowing the Presence, the condition of the lost who are present being excepted; and two, that the words spoken by the speaker or those involved focus on Jesus as the living One such that all realize He is as He said He would be, “There in the midst of them.”

    Things that work against this sense of the Presence of God and mutual edification:
    pride coloring what is said;
    fear and insecurity not submitted to the Spirit of Christ;
    and feelings of superiority/inferiority alive and standing unaddressed on issues of status within the group.