As some of my readers know (and some may not know), when our church meets together, the teaching is a little different than the teaching (preaching?) when most churches meet. What do I mean? Well, typically, our teaching is in the form of a discussion.
Generally, we have an agreed up subject or passage of Scripture. Someone agrees to teach that subject or passage. What that means is that that person facilitates a discussion concerning the subject or passage. The amount of lecture combined with discussion/dialog depends on who is teaching / facilitating our teaching time.
Since more than one person is speaking, the teaching can get very specific. Someone may ask a specific question that affects what the person is facing in life. Another person may make a completely different comment, but just as specific and just as personal to that person or to someone else.
The last time we met as a church, we met around tables. When we do this, along with the teaching I described above, the person leading our teaching also gives us a question or topic to discuss around each table (with 6-10 people at each table). In this way, even more people take part in the teaching, and even more specific and personal questions or applications or problems or comments are considered.
This type of teaching is much more direct and more personal and (I think) more discipling than any other that I’ve ever experienced. But, there may still be something missing. Let me try to explain.
Margaret, my wife, and I were talking about the teaching and our time together. Later, we also talked with another couple who are our close friends. We all agreed that something is missing, and that’s the next step. The next step would be for the teaching to move beyond words and concepts into action.
Let me give you an example. Suppose, for instance, that we’re talking about reaching out to our neighbors, coworkers, family, etc. with the gospel. As we talk about this subject, several people may offer specific examples of opportunities that they’ve had to share the gospel with others. Others, then, would probably share that they know that they need to share the gospel (and they may even have someone specific in mind), but they struggle with doing that. We would probably encourage that person, and even pray for him or her right then.
But, what about the next step? What needs to happen next? Well, someone needs to come alongside that person and help him or her to share the gospel with the other person that God has brought to mind. And, that could happen right away.
Imagine, we’re sitting together as the church (either around tables or in a circle), and someone expresses a struggle with sharing the gospel with a neighbor. We encourage the person and pray for him or her. Then – the next step – someone offers to go with that brother or sister (perhaps at that very moment) to share the gospel with the neighbor. Or, perhaps someone else offers to take the struggling brother or sister along on a trip to the food pantry when the gospel is often shared.
There are so many possibilities, but it means taking the next step – the step away from concept and toward action.
I think this is an important step for us (and any church and all believers) to take. Why? Because discipleship (becoming more mature in Jesus Christ) is not only about concepts. Instead, it’s also about obediently following Jesus Christ throughout our lives.
Have you ever been part of a church meeting when people took the next step, and actually acted to help a brother or sister right away (it doesn’t have to be with evangelism, it could be with anything)? What do you think?