Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Are Different Things Edifying for Different People?

We all enjoy certain activities more than others. For example, I'd rather go to the beach than go to the mall. Others feel the opposite. We could all make lists of our favorite things.

As the church gathers, we also all tend to have our favorite things to do. Some of us prefer casually hanging out. Others prefer a ceremony of some kind. Some like discussion, while others would rather hear a sermon. Some want to sing hymns, while others desire modern choruses. Some would rather meet in homes while others desire a large building. The list is endless.

Some of this is related to our spiritual giftings. We tend to like to do the things we are good at, whatever they may be.

Something more is going on. On blogs like this we talk a lot about edification. We might be making a mistake in assuming that certain things are always edifying while others are not. For example, we could be incorrect to say that dialog is always more edifying to all people than is monologue. There are clearly some Christians who are edified a great deal by sermons. I enjoy listening to one from time to time.

Since we are different people, we Christians likely are edified by different activities in different amounts, different ways, and in differing occasions. This can even vary from time to time for the individual. It certainly varies between people.

In light of these differences, church gatherings should have a great deal of variety to them. In the busyness of life it is easy to fall into the trap of the routine. Regardless of how churches tend to gather, they can end up doing the same things gathering after gathering. This may be edifying for some, but others may feel starved.

I'm not suggesting some sort of postmodern nonsense during church meetings where "anything goes." Certainly the biblical model should be our model. However, there does seem to be some freedom within that model. For example, in scripture we see dialogue as the dominant form of communication in gatherings. This can take many forms and styles.

Keeping all this in mind, it would serve the church well to talk about what is edifying personally. I'm referring to taking time during a gathering for everyone to speak about what helps them grow in the Lord. Some folks might say things that the body has never thought of or done. It could lead to the church family engaging in some types of activities that they haven't done before (again, within biblical parameters).

In this post I'm attempting to leave out too many specifics. The reason for this is that each church family is unique. A discussion of what is edifying will take on different forms for each local body. There may be some people who have been aching to do something specific, but who have been reticent to say it. This type of conversation gives them the opportunity they need.

This could, of course, be a little uncomfortable. Somebody make make a suggestion that would be a great challenge for everyone involved (possibly some sort of service in the community). Someone could decide it's time to break out in one of the spiritual gifts we don't often see (such as speaking in tongues). Another person might decide that this is an invitation to perform a puppet show (possibly acceptable). Some odd fellow may take this opportunity to plant a holy kiss on all the attractive females present (not acceptable).

Discussions like this could lead to an exciting time for the body. It would certainly bring about interesting conversations. The goal is to assist brothers and sisters in growing in Christ.

It's a conversation worth having because we are all different.


Alan Knox said...


Yes! Excellent post! The church is the people of God, and as the people change so will the church. Not only are different people edified by different things, but the same person is edified by different things depending on what is going on in his/her life.


Marshall said...

acts that truly edify will build us up together and with one another, even as living stones. (While it is possible to edify a single stone, we never quite get an endorsement from the New Testament to be so doing.)
One portion of the whole may be "more" or "greater" edified by what is being done in place & time. As with construction of a house, work to steady corners & framing builds up the walls, windows; and in another way, the roof.

Eric said...

Thanks Alan.

As part of being a family, we all need to let others know what helps us grow. We also need to know how to helps others. The edification takes on a reciprocal nature, with everyone growing in Christ. We must fight the tendency to fall into the routine.

Eric said...


The house is a great analogy. Everything grows together.

Steve Scott said...


I have thought about this over the last few years, and believe it is true. It should come as no surprise, then, that there are some people who are edified with passive sermon listening who at the same time are edified most by the particular music their church uses, who then cannot understand why it isn't that way for everybody else, too. Both in traditional practice and in personal preference the best for them is the norm.

Eric said...


I suppose that is a lesson for all of us. I find myself wondering how in the world anyone can be edified by listening to sermon after sermon. While I think there is a huge problem with passivity, if a person is edified by sermons, and then actively lives this out throughout the week, then maybe sermons are what they need. The problem, of course, is that in general the sermon leads to passivity. Edification must bring about action.