the weblog of Alan Knox


Posted by on Apr 10, 2009 in books, edification, gathering | 8 comments

I’m working on a post about the necessity of mutuality – that is “mutual” edification, not just edification; “mutual” exhortation, not just exhortation. I’ll probably be ready to publish that post in another week or so. But, in the meantime, here’s a quote from my research on the theology of encouragement from the Book of Hebrews:

The reason the meetings of the assembly are not to be neglected is that they provide a communal setting where mutual encouragement and admonition may occur… The entire community must assume responsibility to watch that no one grows weary or becomes apostate. This is possible only when Christians continue to exercise care for one another personally. (William L. Lane. Hebrews 9-13, in Word Biblical Commentary vol 47B. Dallas: Word Books, 1991, 290)

But, what if the “meeting of the assembly” is not a “communal setting where mutual encouragement and admonition may occur”? It seems that today it is very possible (perhaps probable?) that believers can continue to gather together without any expectations (from themselves or others) that they are all responsible to encourage one another.


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  1. 4-10-2009

    looking forward to this upcoming post, mutuality is so key…


  2. 4-10-2009

    I cannot think of one setting I’ve been in over the last 20 years of ‘gathering’ where this type of mutuality was expected. Well… maybe an occasional small group.

    But in fact, most things are structured to discourage more than the ‘encouragement’ of a very few.

    I believe this has led to an atrophy of sorts. We come to community expecting to receive instead of give.I am concerned for what this has done to our maturity. If we feel no responsibility to give, why dig into scripture? Why read and study and pray for God’s heart?

    I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on this.

  3. 4-10-2009


    I think alot of people believe “mutuality” is dangerous. Some think it is okay, but not necessary. I’m going to suggest that it is absolutely necessary.


    Comments like yours – and I’ve heard it so many times – encourage me to continue talking about the important of mutual edification. I agree that a lack of edification has resulted in a lack of maturity.


  4. 4-11-2009


    As you probably know already, it is common for people to stop showing up for the meeting and no one ever knows why. Because they don’t make the effort to find out. And in other cases when people try to find out, there was never a real relationship ever built, so those who left do not feel comfortable enough with the others to respond. At least truthfully respond.

    Encouragement is definitely a necessity within the body of Christ. Many look at it as though it is just a nice thing to do. But, I will admit that it is not an easy thing to do in todays typical congregational setting.

    Most are built on tradition instead of scripture. As a result, most christians relate out of tradition as opposed to relating scripturally.


  5. 4-11-2009


    You’re right. The typical church meeting format does not promote relationship or mutuality.


  6. 4-11-2009

    Knock knock.

    Visitors: Come to our church

    Homeowner: I don’t need to go to church.

    Visitors: Yes, you do, it’s in the bible!

    Homeowner: It is? Where?

    Visitors: Heb 10:23,24 (and they read it aloud)

    Homeowner: Wow. It is there. I should go!

    Visitors: YES!

    Homeowner: I’ll prepare a short message – maybe 15 minutes?

    Visitors: Oh, no, you can’t speak at our church.

    Homeowner: Well, if I can’t obey the scriptural reason for getting together, tell me again why I should go?

    (Note: Neither side is very nice in this exchange. Everyone loses. But tell me again why I should go…?)

  7. 4-11-2009


    How would you handle that conversation?


  8. 4-12-2009

    I can only tell you what I did do.

    Well, in 1976 I was the visitor. There were a group of Christians (about 5 or 6 families) that once in a while would visit our church. So I went to get them to come regularly. We had the conversation I posted above.

    It wasn’t called simple church or house church then. They didn’t have a name for it. But they were living it. That was the home of Steve Parker. In a few weeks, my wife and I became part of their group and the “church.”

    The group broke up about a year later, because we all got out of the service and went to New Tribes. Some of them are still with them. I’ve not been able to bear long in the suffocating chains of the system that most of us call “church” since.