First, I think the comment is a well-articulated comment and a necessary component of our discussion of edifying one another when we gather with the church.
Second, Art’s comment is another indicator that he should be writing this stuff for his own blog… but then I need to keep my mouth shut so that he continues to leave the comments here.
I thought about copying Art’s entire comment, but I decided to continue the discussion by asking a question… which I’ll get to by the end of this post.
In the comment, Art is talking about participatory meetings. Now, for most Christians, church gatherings are not a time of real participation. They primarily gather to hear from others, and usually they hear from the same person week in and week out.
Some churches move toward more participatory meetings by having different people speak from week to week, or by encouraging comments or questions after the speaker is finished.
Other groups of believers move along the spectrum toward mutual participation by having a discussion about a specific topic or passage of Scripture.
Finally, some groups come together without a preplanned topic or passage.
Now, if a group of believers recognizes that mutual participation is beneficial for the church, and if that same group of believers recognizes that they do not all participate when they gather together, what should they do? Should they take steps toward mutual participation (perhaps along the spectrum that I described above), or should they jump in with both feet directly into all participating without a preplanned topic or passage?
This is the question that Art poses in his comment:
Doesn’t our best attempts to move past the pastor controlled meeting space still deny committing one another to the care and capability of the Spirit in contributing to one another when assembled? Wasn’t this something Paul was very quick to do with pagans only recently converted, leaving them on their own after a few weeks or months without “leadership?” Do the saints, in fact, need us and not the Spirit, to help them begin to “participate” so narrowly? I suppose I’m advocating “throwing the meeting in the deep end of the pool to learn to swim together,” but this seems to be the biblical pattern.
As you can see, I borrowed Art’s swimming analogy for this post.
So, what do you say? If a group desires mutual participation for the sake of helping one another grow in Christ, is it better to take small, incremental steps by adding more and more participation? Or is it better to scrap all facilitators and plans in order to provide opportunities for mutual participation immediately? Why?