A few weeks ago, I was talking with someone about our history of meeting together as a church. We’ve been meeting together for around six years. When we started meeting together, we met in a much more traditional manner than we do now.
What do I mean by meeting together in a traditional manner? Well, we sat in rows with everyone looking forward at the platform or podium. Each week, someone chose songs for the entire group to sing. Each week, someone taught (preached) based on a predefined schedule.
Now, as you can tell, there were still some less-traditional aspects to our meeting. There may have been different people (from week to week) choosing songs or different people (from week to week) teaching/preaching.
Over the first couple of years, as we continued to study Scripture together, our manner of meeting began to change some. The first major change occurred when we added a “testimony” time after the planned teaching in which everyone present was given an opportunity to speak.
About a year after we added this new opportunity for others to speak, we had some discussions as a church to determine which direction we wanted to head. While the discussions covered many, many different topics, there were several disagreements about teaching/preaching.
Here are a few of the teaching/preaching topics that we discussed:
Who should preach/teach?
Some only wanted the elders (those recognized by the church as elders) to preach/teach when the church met together. Others wanted the elders plus a few more who had been approved and trained by the elders to be allowed to teach/preach. Still others wanted anyone to be allowed to teach/preach.
How should we preach/teach?
This was an interesting topic, because it was difficult for anyone to explain exactly. The best way to explain it (as I understood it) is that some wanted only a certain style or preaching/teaching, while others were open to different methods from different people.
What should be the goal of our preaching/teaching?
With this topic, we discussed the purpose of our meeting together, which, of course, would determine the purpose of any activity including preaching/teaching. As you can imagine, there were different options offered in this discussion.
And, on a related note, Does the “testimony time” take away from preaching/teaching?
This is self-explanatory, but some were concerned that allowing anyone to speak took away from the focus on the preaching/teaching. Again, this disagreement and discussion took us back to the purpose for meeting together.
I wish I could say that we always came to agreement on these topics related to preaching/teaching. But, we did not. I wish I could say that we always remained united in spite of our disagreements, but we did not.
Some people did decide to stop meeting with us because of these disagreements. I can understand the difficulty being part of a group that differed in an area (like preaching) that many concerned to be of utmost importance. Others decided to continue meeting with us in spite of the disagreements. I’m glad they did. I’ve learned alot from them.
By the way, and for the record: No, the church did not always make decisions that I agreed with.
I learned alot through those discussions and disagreements. For the most part, people responded in a Christ-like manner. There were some instances in which people did not respond in a way that honors Christ. At times, I was in the latter group.
In the years since, our teaching/preaching (and our meeting time in general) has continued to move from more traditional to less traditional. But, that will have to wait for another post.