Saturday, March 20, 2010

On the Willingness to Speak

I have spoken with many Christians who say that they are too shy to speak in front of a large group. I understand this completely. It is difficult for most people to discuss what they are thinking if they must do so before a large audience. This fear seems to be normal for most people. It appears to be part of human nature.

When we think about church gatherings, we should keep this fear in mind. People who might speak in front of a small group probably would not do so in front of a much larger group. For example, someone who might share with ten or fifteen others would likely not share in front of 100-150 others.

Most church gatherings in this country have over 50 people. Many have over 100. Most people that I know would not feel comfortable speaking with all those people. Even if churches of this size encouraged multiple people to speak during their gatherings, very few people would do so. Of course, in the typical "worship service," few people actually speak. What I'm stressing is that even if they were given the opportunity to talk, they most likely would not.

What if the gathering was much smaller? What if instead of 100-150 people, the group was only 10-15 people? If this was the case, it is safe to say that many more people would be willing to discuss what they are thinking and feeling with the group. Somewhat ironically, this is how Sunday School classes often work. Many people who do speak in Sunday School do not even contemplate speaking in the much larger worship services.

The bible tells us that all things in the gathering of the church are to be done for edification. This is very clear biblically.

How does this edification happen? The early church seems to have thought it came through mutual interaction as they gathered. Regardless of what people think about today's church gatherings, there is general agreement that when the early church got together, many different people spoke.

So, if edification occurs most effectively when many people speak to one another, then it seems that we should gather together as churches in settings where everyone will be willing to speak. I think we would all agree that small group settings are best for this.

Small groups can meet just about anywhere. The biblical model is the house, but I'm sure that under a tree works well, too. Let us meet together where we all feel comfortable speaking, so that we can all edify one another.


Jeffrey said...

I couldn't agree more. The Bible speaks about each believer being gifted and that each should use their gift to edify one another. Often this is used to get people to clean the bathroom and work in "children's Church". Nothing wrong with those activities if that's what the Holy Spirit leads one to do, but in a small group, watching someone listen for two months and then all of a sudden start to "chime in" during the study is great. Occasionally, it is apparent that someone is gifted in teaching, or discernment, or in wisdom for practically applying the passage being studied, and they seem surprised that the thing they said came out of them. That's what I find so exciting: someone discovering their gift. My goal is to see people come closer to Jesus, and closer to the life He has for them--not only in the next life, but this one too. I can't urge you strongly enough to pursue this nugget that God as apparently placed in your heart.

In my humble opinion, and limited understanding, shedding what we hold as sacred, when it's not scriptural is like baptism: it's the first step toward obedience, even though we may not understand what's happening.

Eric said...


Thanks for the encouraging comment. It does sound exciting to watch someone discover their spiritual gifts as you have mentioned. I can see how this setting would build up the entire body instead of just some of the people.