the weblog of Alan Knox

What if we met to edify one another?

Posted by on Oct 30, 2009 in edification, gathering, love, service | 7 comments

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post called “What if we met to edify one another?” In that post, I said that the way churches meet would change if our purpose was to allow each believer the opportunity to exercise their spiritual gifts in order to build up the church toward maturity in Christ. I still think this is true, so I thought I would share that post again. I also hope that you will think about the questions that I ask at the end of the post and share your thoughts with us.


What if we met to edify one another?

Occasionally, I’m asked if I think churches today should meet in the same way that churches met in the first century, as described in the New Testament. This questions is usually followed by a statement such as, “Should we also wear robes and sandals when we meet together?”

Certainly there are major differences between the twenty-first century and the first century. While I do not believe that we should do everything exactly like the church did in the New Testament, I do believe that we who live in the twenty-first century can learn something from those who lived in the first century – even when it comes to the church meeting.

First of all, consider the standard church meeting of today. These meetings usually center on locations, leaders, music, preaching, and money. Are these bad things? No. People need a place to meet. It is good to recognize leaders. Singing praise to God is a good thing. Preaching and teaching are important. Money is necessary for some of the things that we do. But, do we find these things the focus of the church meeting in the New Testament.

I suggest that if we study the meeting of the church in the New Testament, we will not find a focus on location, leaders, music, preaching, or money. Are they important. Yes, but they are not most important. I suggest that instead of changing the way the church meets today, we would learn more by changing our focus during the meeting to the focus of the gathered church in the New Testament.

What was the focus of the gathered church in the New Testament? The purpose of the church meeting was to allow each believer an opportunity to exercise his or her spiritual gifts in a manner that built up other believers, that is, that encouraged them toward maturity in Jesus Christ. If the church changed its focus today, would it change the way that we meet? I think that it would. However, if we start with changing the way that we meet, then we are starting with the wrong thing. Let’s start with our purpose. If we start with the purpose of building up one another in Christ, then the format of the meeting will fall into place.

If we start by recognizing that we should meet together so that we can build up one another, then the reason for locations, leaders, music, preaching, and money also falls into place. Similarly, we can make decisions based on the reason that we meet together as a church.

Think about the way your church meets. Does the meeting of your church reflect the purpose of allowing each believer to exercise his or her spiritual gifts in order to build up others toward maturity in Christ?


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

  1. 10-30-2009

    Thanks for the post. I appreciate this greatly as we are wrestling with numerous things at the present time.

  2. 10-30-2009

    I appreciate your thoughts. You’re certainly right, there must be a “why” before we worry about the “what”. I’d be interested in your thoughts on the article entitled “‘Mutual Edification’ in the Lord’s Day Assembly” at It discusses in some detail the biblical basis for such mutually edifying meetings.

  3. 10-31-2009

    I think I understand what you are getting at and I would tend to agree. However, what if the church was made up of all new believers except maybe one or two older/mature believers and the new believers were all 15 or 16 years old? It is much more difficult to determine a persons gifts at that age and they are so emotionally and spiritually immature that they would not be able to contribute much in the way of edification. They are more takers than givers is what I mean. I am in the beginning stages of starting new, small churches on a high school campus and our focus is to edify them by helping them to discover on their own who Jesus is and what He has done so that they can really put their faith in Him for the first time and begin to obey and follow after Him.

    What we have found is that they really do want to know that Jesus is real and can change their lives so we begin with a meal together then we have a sharing time to find out how they are doing. Each week they choose to take an action based on the scripture we studied and a person to tell what they have learned so at the beginning of the next gathering we are asking them how their action to take went and how it went with their person to tell. Then we tell them a story from the Gospels or the book of acts and then they read the story for themselves out loud and we discuss key questions to help them discover the main lesson for themselves and then the cycle of action to take and person to tell starts all over again. Then we pray together and dismiss until the next time.

    We are finding this to be a very effective way of helping new believers or even seekers to discover who Jesus is and what it means to follow Him wholeheartedly.

    How would I take this to the next level in terms of edification as you are suggesting? Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

  4. 10-31-2009

    Jeff Greathouse,

    You offered some great comments when I first published this post. 🙂


    Thanks for the link. I’ll try to read that today.

    Jeff Cox,

    I would suggest that you also give them opportunity and encouragement to share with the group what God is teaching them – like you’re doing. Let them know that it is not just your responsibility but each of their responsibility to teach one another, admonish one another, edify one another, etc. Also, why not allow one or two of them to occasionally teach the story from the Gospels or Acts. You could even help them study the passage first.


  5. 10-31-2009

    In our home fellowship the other night, one of our young men (16) brought his guitar. We encouraged him to join in with the other guitar player, who was obviously more gifted. He is 20. The 16 year old joined in and even led a couple of songs he had been working on.

    This young man has been struggling with rebellion and wanting to go his own way. A couple of us sat down with him and his father couple of weeks ago to admonish him on the direction he was going. His father was glad for the meeting. It was community in action.

    By encouraging this young man to participate in the meeting was a blessing to all. We could have waited until he had his life together before waiting to let him play his guitar and participate. But by extending love and grace to him, I believe his life is starting to turn more towards God than the world.

    I was edified by what happened. Thanks Alan for your examples of church life. It is truly edifying.

  6. 12-16-2009

    I have found the many discussions on this topic to be very challenging and helpful. In my study I just came across a contrary view put up by Jeff Plank at

    I hope to encourage more openness in our church, allowing and encouraging more involvement and everyone’s input has been a big help.

  7. 12-17-2009


    I read the article. I don’t agree with his interpretation of 1 Cor 14. First, he conflates being thankful with worship without discussion. Also, in the hypothetical situation of verse 25, Paul writes that the unbeliever is convicted because of the Corinthians’ prophecy, which according to Paul is intended for edification. Similarly, in Hebrews 12:25, Plank suggests the one preaching a sermon is the “speaker” in that passage. I think the context makes it clear that this is not the case. Also, Romans 15 (in the context of Romans 12-15) is about worship as a way of life, not during the church meeting.

    I do not disagree that believers should worship when they meet together. Why? Because we are to worship at all times with everything that we do, think, or say. The questions remains: according to Scripture, how to believers worship when they meet together? It seems to me that we worship by edifying one another.