Everyone

There are so many questions I have about how to be the church and what our gatherings should look like as the church, but I feel like this one principle is pretty crucial: Everyone should be involved in the gathering. It seems that when we look at the New Testament examples we see this idea that everyone is involved. Paul tells the Corinithians:

“How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” – 1Cr 14:26 NKJV emphasis added

It seems pretty clearly biblical that we all be involved when we gather, and I think that it is also very helpful. The Spirit can use the gifts of everyone when everyone participates. The more people involved the more people the Spirit uses. It seems logical to me then that the more people involved the better!

Another benefit of everyone being involved is that everyone is able to grow in their spiritual gifts. It also encourages people to think more about their spiritual life: Has God done something in my life recently? Am I learning or growing in a particular area right now? Have I read something in the scripture recently that encouraged me or taught me something new? By asking these questions we think even more about our faith which can help us grow and see where we are struggling.

I think the list of benefits could go on and on.

I do have a few questions regarding this topic:

  1. Is the expectation that EVERYONE should share EVERY TIME the church is gathered or just that there should be opportunity for everyone to share?
  2. What if someone says something that is not true or unbiblical? Should there be open discussion on this? Should it be ignored? How should it be dealt with?
  3. Do you know of some other benefits to everyone being involved that I haven’t mentioned?
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About Dan Allen

Just some guy trying to figure stuff out... View all posts by Dan Allen

17 responses to “Everyone

  • danny

    Hey Dan, You probably don’t remember me but we were in school at the same time down here in Wake Forest. Alan filled me in on things up there the other day. I am glad to hear you are asking these questions and seeing such great things in the scriptures.

    I can relate to your experience a little and I am about to go back to an area where it was pretty rough, as far as fellowship goes like we are talking about.

    Just thought I would post an encouragement for you and anyone else. God himself went through this very struggle. He clothed himself in flesh and dwelt among his creation and they didn’t get it for a long time. He just kept doing what was proper fellowship; some left him and finally some got it.

    I am praying for you guys!

    Danny

    • dmallen

      Thanks a lot Danny! I read your blog, and see your comments on Alan’s blog often. I find your focus on Christ very encouraging! I have always thought that the New testament church is the example we should follow, but in reality, as you have pointed out, Christ is the example to follow, the New testament church was doing it right as far as they emulated Christ’s example. Your comments really helped me put that together so thanks again! I hope to hear how things go for you as you also set out to a new area.

  • Alan Knox

    Well, I’ll try to answer your questions…

    1) I think “everyone,” “each,” and “one another” would point to a potential for everyone to be involved. While the terms may not indicate that everyone talks/serves every time you get together with them, they certainly indicate that more than one person should.

    2) My response to something “untrue” or “unbiblical” depends on what is said. Did the person say something contrary to the gospel? If so, then I think that should be corrected… lovingly and gently. Otherwise, my response would depend on the context of what was said.

    3) Perhaps the best scriptural representation of the benefit of the church all working together (that is, the people all building up one another) is in Ephesians 4:16.

    -Alan

  • Dan Allen

    Alan,

    Thanks for your response.

    I have a couple more questions if you are willing/have time to answer them:

    If someone is repeatedly not participating should they be encouraged/pushed to?

    Do you think that someone sharing something untrue or unbiblical can have positive results? Have you seen this sort of thing happen, and it ultimately resulted in people growing? Or is this simply a hiccup that you try to minimize the damage from?

  • Alan Knox

    Dan,

    There are many factors that can play into someone never sharing, speaking, serving when the church gathers together. Besides making certain that everyone has an opportunity to take part, I would also listen closely to people when talking to them one-on-one or in a smaller group – say, with spouses. If someone shares something that I think others would benefit from, I would encourage that person then to share it. Unfortunately, many, many people have been taught that cannot have anything beneficial to say because of their gender, lack of education, type of education, age, etc.

    Yes, when someone shares something untrue or unbiblical, it can end up being beneficial based on the response and attitude of the others participating. Then again, someone can share something completely biblical in a manner that is detrimental to the health of those involved.

    -Alan

  • Dan Allen

    Thanks Alan!

  • Renee Donovan

    It depends on where these people ”everyone” are in their lives; maybe for that one particular day, or where they are as far as their walk with Christ. Some will/should be used to teach, others to ask questions, others to encourage, and some are there to learn quietly. But amongst them is the presence of the spirit to use all of this, to bring glory to Himself. It amazes me in the “church” as I know it, how God can and does speak to us very personally. The spirit will move if we allow it.
    May I say for whatever reason, it is very sad, but I do want to be honest…. And perhaps you or readers can give me some insight. I feel the struggle of not really knowing that I am sincere. I want to feel something… the true relationship with the holy spirit. I feel it when I am singing the spiritual songs, I feel it when I pray, I hear God speak to me.…. I don’t think it is just the ritual…. But sometimes if feels like it is just the here and now, and minutes later after walking away from that safe zone you turn away and become another person, the person you were before you walked into the fellowship, you go back to the same life you left. I have this struggle all the time. ~ Just a side note, I am talking about the humility you feel while in prayer, the love God shows us, we are to love others less than ourslves~ I know who I am… and sometimes that is much more recognizable than knowing who I should be, to be more Christ like. I have strayed away from church and I think one of the reasons is I just don’t want to be a hypocrite. I don’t want to be who I can’t be… and I don’t want to be who I am…. If that makes any sense please tell me! I am very interested in reading more about your theory of the organic church!!! Thank you for being willing to share this open forum. I also am very interested in learning more about your studies, and the supporting material that you have to base your ideas/theories.

  • Anthony

    Hey Dan! I loved this post…..very true!!! The bottom line is the “whole” body growing together in DEPENDENCY on HIM!!! The cool thing is that although the first believers left us with a “pattern”, there is NO cookie cutter “format” because we are all uniquely gifted AND the Spirit moves as He wills!!!

    Renee, my heart was deeply moved, because I really identified with your heart. The bottom line issue you have to deal with is to seek HIM and not feelings. In your paragraph you mentioned the word “feel” 6 times. My dear sister, feelings are neither right or wrong they simple are……because of what you’ve been thinking. Check out an entry on my blog re: feelings: http://thenormalchristian.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/feelings-whats-up-with-em/

    There is so much I could share with you Renee. I just want to end by saying TRYING to be or do anything is nothing more then the arm of the flesh & will result in exactly where you are right now. Sis, REST in the finished work of Jesus….once for all!!! You can’t He can and He never said you could!!!

    “For me to live IS Christ”. The best illustration of this verse is from Bob George. He shares the picture of a mother carrying her child. Physically an unborn child is the ONLY person who can truly say, “For me to live IS mommy!” Renee, rest in His Life IN you. Bob goes on to say that the gospel can be summed up like this: “Jesus came to give His FOR us; to give His life TO us and to live His life THROUGH us.” Rest in this today!!!

  • Dan Allen

    Mom (for those who don’t know Renee is my wonderful mother!)
    I loved your comment and very much appreciated your honesty. I think what you are saying resonates with many of us!

    Anthony I found your response incredibly encouraging and dead on!

    We cannot do anything. That is the whole point. Human will, human reason, human strategies all fail. Only Christ in us can change us. Gathering one day a week to sing a couple songs, listen to a sermon and chat a couple minutes with people we don’t see the rest of the week cannot give us what we need. We need Christ, and we need real lifestyle fellowship with those who are in Christ!

    Also I would like to thank my Mom for the beautiful photograph that I used in my banner. She is an extraordinary photographer!

  • Renee Donovan

    Thanks Dan for such a nice introduction 🙂 Thank you Anthony for responding. It was kind of funny while I was reading your post, I related it to a doctor’s appointment I recently had. I injured my knee and had to see an orthopedic. She held onto my leg and told me to relax it. I tried… she was getting a little aggravated and said again just go limp, relax. Myself was not allowing that to happen I “felt” tense and was not just able to go limp. She said “come on now, just let it go!”.
    This is like what you mentioned; or at least how I understood your point. Don’t just “feel” and control right? Let the spirit speak and guide? I have experienced this, I truly have. And now that I think about it, typically when I recognize it happening to the greatest degree , is when I simply do not have control of the situation. Hmmm….. Other than that, I am feeling, I am relying on feelings. Not the spirit. It sounds so simple, but in reality, it is not so easy. I will definitely read your blog Anthony, but need to get ready for work right now. I will pray on this. Thank you Anthony and Dan!

  • Anthony

    Hey Renee!
    Great analogy…….the reason she was telling you to relax was because you COULD!!! Think about that. This life we have IN Christ is HIS life…..period!!! The reason we can rest in Him, live in peace, forgive, give, etc. etc. is……well because WE CAN!!! It is Him living throuth you! Paul said in Galatians 2:20 (Amp),
    “I HAVE BEEN crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I LIVE BY FAITH in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (really meditate on the truth of this)

    Also, this may sound weird, but the Lord showed me that my very sincere desire for “righteousness” (doing the right thing) had become a law to me, and it was accomplishing it’s purpose…….killing me (death). In Romans 8:3-4 (Amp) it says:
    “3 For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice], 4 SO THAT the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be FULLY MET IN US who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit].

    Finally, because of what Jesus did at the cross (death) AND the tomb (life) you are right now as righteous as Jesus…..period!!! Believe it!!!
    “He made Him who knew no sin TO BE SIN on our behalf, SO THAT we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
    This is the GREAT EXCHANGE: our filth & sin for His holiness & righteousness!

    NOW…….just chill with Jesus & enjoy HIS life in & through you!!! HOW you ask??? Major Ian Thomas always said the Christian life is lived by being, “Restfully available & immediately obedient!”
    Amen!

  • penandpapermama

    lol… I just wrote out a way-too-long comment, so I’m going to edit it right now, and post the long-form at my My Church Journey blog… but here’s the summary:

    On the one hand we talk glowingly about how when/wherever even 2 or 3 believers are gathered together, with Jesus among them, that is a gathering of the church.
    On the other hand, when we talk about people participating at a gathering of the church, we assume it is an intentional sit-down kind of gathering time.

    But even though we do have a more intentional sit-down-together time as part of our gatherings, we also do other things before and after (what we do of course depends on the group and varies from time to time).

    Yet I have found myself worrying that that there isn’t enough of “everyone participating” in our “gathering,” because I am thinking of that sit-down-together part of it. While reading this post and the comments, I just realized that during our entire gathering time, all kinds of people who don’t necessarily “speak up” very often in the sit-down-together time, are regularly sharing their gifts in the rest of the gathering . Hospitality, helps, teaching, songs of praise, prayer…

    One other thing – when “off-kilter” comments come up outside the sit-down-together time, it is easier to gently offer correction when only a small group are directly involved. Then later, in the sit-down-together time, we can bring up those questions, without having the person(s) feeling singled out so much – and everyone learns.

    Wow, this is something I have really been kind of struggling with – and Father has used your post and everyone’s comments to open my eyes to this! Thank You!

  • Dan Allen

    Norma,

    I always appreciate your comments, they are thoughtful and insightful so don’t worry about length! Although I do like that your comments normally end up being posts on your blog!

    Honestly I don’t know what “everyone participating” should look like. I think that you are right and there are many people gifted in non-teaching areas, but Paul seems to emphasize that when we come together everyone has something to share, i.e. the passage I referenced at the beginning of my post. I think it is important that we make an opportunity for everyone to share when we gather, but not to make people feel bullied into sharing. Honestly that’s just my guess. I really am trying to figure this out but I think if there is not opportunity for everyone to share than we will see the people who are allowed to share taking over and usurping the headship of Christ, we will also do harm to the idea of the priesthood of all believers.

    Thoughts?

    -Dan

  • penandpapermama

    I agree!

    I would add that in the exercise of non-teaching gifts, there is relationship building, and that leads to conversation, which leads naturally to teaching. And as people have opportunity to share/teach (one-to-one) in the other activities of the group, it will give them courage to open up in the gathering together time – if of course the opportunity and encouragement is provided. And perhaps in that relationship-building activity time, the “teacher” folks will have their eyes opened (or ears? lol) to see that Jesus uses all kinds of people to teach.

    It does come back, again, to relationship, doesn’t it? Family gathering. Around the family dinner table….. I’m not sure if we should be aiming to make it “look like” anything. Maybe “look to” Jesus at the head of the table for our cues (as our children do at home when they are little ones keeping an eye on what mommy and daddy do and say and think … and then happily be part of it).

    Do you think that the “priesthood of believers” metaphor is sometimes a problem for us who maybe still picture priests as especially “holy men” … when we so often don’t see ourselves as “holy enough” (or, in the case of half of us, “men” either!)? Maybe it keeps us looking for more formal patterns to follow.

    Of course, if Jesus is truly the core, the focus, the head, the rest will fall into place as we look to him. That’s the hard part…

  • Mark

    Dan,

    I love your post, and the discussion. I linked here from Norma’s site. The common thread I find, here and from posts at Alan Knox’s web site, is the faulty assumption that we don’t have anything to share, for whatever reason. Someone above mentioned this in a comment already, but I just wanted to comment on this specifically. The people I fellowship with, about 9 of us right now, have begun to believe that the Lord is preparing to do a significant work in our town, through us. There is a part of me that feels so under-equipped to be used in ANY manner! A friend of mine encouraged me recently to not underestimate what I am capable of in Christ, or what Christ is capable of accomplishing in me. I think we sell Christ-in-us short. Having said that, I think it is imperative that we help those that don’t share understand that they do have truth inside, as surely as Christ resides inside them, and their input IS valued. Also, going along with what Norma has stated, I think there are those that will always be “shy”, and may need the encouragement that Alan mentioned to restate something spoken in a smaller conversation to the group at large.

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  • Dan Allen

    Norma,

    I know exactly what you mean with the dinner table analogy, I see my kids taking cues from me and my wife all the time. It is my hope that I will more and more take my cues from Christ, and that all I do points others to him as well. I would not want to try and steel his seat at the head of the table!

    I think the priesthood language is interesting because it does make us sound especially “holy” which I personally don’t feel holy very often! But we are a holy and set apart people in Christ; it truly all goes back to him! I do find your comment on it making us think of more formal patterns very interesting; I need to think about that more. As a woman do you feel like you have trouble relating to this metaphor? I have never thought of that either.

    Mark,

    Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for linking on your blog! You bring up a point that I saw alluded to in Norma’s and definitely something I have been dealing with: feeling incapable or inadequate for the task. All I can say is that if God is made strong in our weakness then he will be greatly glorified in any way he uses me!

    -Dan

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