There is a bit of a feud (and that is a huge overstatement) going on between two of my friends – real friends – on their blogs.
It started when Eric at “A Pilgrim’s Progress” wrote the post “No Guarantee.” In the post, Eric exhorts the church to seek to edify one another. He concludes, “I simply want to encourage us all to be intentional in our efforts at mutual edification as the body gathers. Otherwise we miss the point of the meeting altogether.”
In response Dave Black (Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 9:32 a.m.) says, without disagreeing with Eric, that the church’s purpose is mission. He writes, “As I understand Scripture, the church is to carry out the Missio Dei of the Triune God at both the micro (individual salvation) and macro (societal) levels, with a view to redemption, reconciliation, and social transformation.”
So, is edification important for the church or is mission important for the church? The answer is, obviously, YES! Both edification and mission are important – and vital and necessary – for the church.
As Eric pointed out, when the church gathers together – that is, whenever we are together with other brothers or sisters in Christ – our goal should be to build up one another – to help one another grow in maturity in Jesus Christ.
Edification is the responsibility of every believer – yes, every believer, not just leaders – whenever the church gather together. And, edification includes anything that allows us to help one another walk in the Spirit (put on Christ, mature in Christ, honor God – however you want to say it). We are all ministers (servants) given to the church by God to help the church grow in his grace.
For further explanation, see my recent post “Whenever you come together.”
But, as Dave pointed out, we are also to carry out the mission of God. This mission takes on both an individual aspect and a societal aspect. While proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ to people we meet (with both our words AND our actions), we are also to be serving those around us (our neighbors, our co-workers, other students, others in our communities) in order to demonstrate the kingdom of God to the world.
Again, this is the responsibility of ALL believers – not just leaders or those who are “specially called.” We are God’s witnesses testifying of the good work that God is doing in our lives. We are all missionaries sent into the world by God to carry out his mission.
In fact, we may choose carry out this mission together – with other believers. In that case, our missional lives become a further opportunity to edify the church, thus carrying out both aspects of church life listed above: edification and mission.
(For further explanation, see my recent post “Our shared mission.”)
So, yes, when the church comes together, we are to build up one another in maturity in Jesus Christ. And, we are to carry out God’s mission as those sent into the world by God.
Both are important for the church.