Sunday, January 9, 2011

House Church - Mutual Edification

"What is the purpose of the church gathering?" If you ask Christians this question, the majority will answer by saying, "Worship." This is true in general terms. However, for the Christian all of life is worship. It will look different at different times, but in the end all we do is to be done to the glory of God.

It's interesting to look at what the bible says about the purpose of the church gathering. I believe its purpose is the same as its goal. What is the answer? Why do we gather together? Two words: mutual edification.

Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

These two verses are extremely important because they deal specifically with the church gathering. As we gather, what are we supposed to do? The author (whoever it was) informs us to "consider how to stir up one another to love and good works" and to be "encouraging one another."

The "stirring up to love and good works" and the "encouraging" are both examples of edification. The term "one another" shows that these actions are mutual.

I Corinthians 14 is another critical passage. Regardless of how you interpret some of the specifics of this chapter, it is impossible to ignore the straight forward statement about why the church gathers (the context of the passage). I Corinthians 14:26 says , "What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up." This is a command. So whatever we do in our church meetings, it is to all be for the building up of the body in Christ.

I Corinthians 14:40 reads, "But all things should be done decently and in order." Why? This brings about edification.

Finally, in I Peter 4:7-11 we read, "The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies -- in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

We see here that service to others brings about the end result of God being glorified.

So the order goes something like this: We receive gifts from God that we use in service to others in the body. This service leads to their edification. Their service to us leads to our edification. All this edification brings us all closer to Christ, with the end result being His glory.

As we gather with our church family this week, our purpose will be body edification. I hope to live up to Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." My desire is to say and do things that will cause my brothers and sisters in Christ to grow closer to Him. I certainly hope this happens with me also.

Every week we are each able to talk in the large group, talk with small groups, and talk with individuals. Each dynamic is different and allows for various types of conversation. At a personal level, I find that I can speak and hear edifying words in differing ways with differing groups. That's a fancy way of saying that the way we meet provides much opportunity to be built up in Christ.

At all times the purpose of the gathering is the building up of the entire church family. There is no specific time for this during our meetings. It happens when we first arrive. It happens when we sing, teach, exhort, pray, laugh, etc. It happens during the Lord's Supper.

As we assemble, our goal in the house church is edification. Edification is worship.

(If you would like to read more on the topic of mutual edification, I recommend this series by my friend Alan Knox.)


Aussie John said...


Mutual. Yes! A small word with an amazing breadth of meaning in the context of the Body of Christ.

Eric said...

It is a wonderful thing. We are blessed by it in our fellowship.

I'm reminded of Romans 1:11-12, "For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you — that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine."