Typically, when the church gathers together today, the focus is on something called a “worship service.” We all know what this means: a few people have prepared songs, prayers, and/or a teaching (sermon) that are presented to others. Other are invited to take part in the songs (some of the songs), in a prayer or two occasionally, and in giving money to the church organization (some of which may be used for missions or for those in need).
A few years ago, when I began studying the church in the New Testament (especially when believers gathered together in the New Testament), I noticed something important. The “worship service” of today does not resemble what they did or how they gathered together.
Now, the thing is, this is not a problem as long as the way we gather together is unnecessary to our life in Christ and our growth in him. But, as I continued to study, I found that the things we do (and don’t do) when we get together with other brothers and sisters in Christ is not only important, but is necessary to our growth and maturity in Jesus Christ.
A couple of years ago, I wrote this:
However, just because the authors of Scripture were not concerned with the specific things that happened when the church met together does not mean that they were not concerned with the church gathering together. In fact, I think they were very concerned.
It is correct for us to say that Scripture does not tell us how the church should meet together. It is completely incorrect to say that Scripture does not tell us why the church should meet together. Scripture is very clear on the purpose of the brothers and sisters in Christ gathering together, whenever they gather together. (See “Mutual Edification and the Church: Introduction.”)
There’s a phrase used to describe what believers in the New Testament did when they gathered together: “mutual edification.” There are two important parts to this term. 1) “Mutual” indicates that the entire church – all the people – took part. 2) “Edification” indicates that the goal was growth, maturity, encouragement in Jesus Christ.
In other words, if the authors of the New Testament were correct (and I think they were), and if we should consider what they wrote to be important (and I think we should), then we should also recognize the importance and necessity of mutual edification whenever we get together with our brothers and sisters in Christ. When? Like Paul wrote, “Whenever you come together…” (1 Corinthians 14:26)
I’ll end with this:
We demonstrate our worship to God when we obey him and give ourselves to him. According to Scripture, when the church meets together (that is, whenever two or more disciples of Jesus are together), we worship (that is, we obey God) when we mutually edify one another. (See “Mutual Edification and the Church: Conclusion.”)