Assumptions on Participation: Learning

If everyone participates in the gatherings of the church then how do we avoid people teaching heresy? That seems to be a common question posed to me about every member participation. It is a good question, and it makes sense. The problem is that I believe it is based on some faulty assumptions. I will discuss these over the next few days.

And the last faulty assumption that I would bring up is that people learn by hearing and not by speaking or sharing. If the majority of believers are sitting in pews or chairs during the gathering of the church, and if the focal point of the entire service is the teaching by the pastor then it makes sense to assume that this is how we understand believers grow (or at least a primary means of growth). Well, I think it is safe to say that this isn’t really working that well. Is listening to another person teach really the only way a believer grows? Isn’t it possible that we grow by exercising our gifts and fulfilling our calling as followers of Christ? Our calling is not to passivity. We are called to edify one another, to teach one another, to exhort one another, to encourage one another. Maybe, if people had the opportunity to fulfill these callings as followers of Christ they may grow even more than they do by listening to a sermon by someone else.


About Dan Allen

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

2 responses to “Assumptions on Participation: Learning

  • Bob

    Another aspect of this has to do with equipping. If my view is that I am the one who is professionally equipped for teaching, then why would I bother to equip a layman? If a layman wants to get equipped for teaching, they would have to go to college and become a professional. On the other hand, if my view is that we are all called to service, then I’m not just going to be teaching but I also going to be teaching how to teach. In other words, because we have left the teaching to the professionals we have lost the ability to do so ourselves. Worst of all we lose the ability to discern false from true because we don’t have to actually work this out for ourselves, we can have it spoon fed to us. Leaving all the teaching to a professional class actually promotes false teaching because believers don’t have to think through what it is they believe and why. If the teaching is left to a few then the many also never learn how to fellowship with those who see things differently. In most churches there is only one official doctrinal position on things and that happens to be the pastors. Too bad for you if you don’t see things his way. You would most likely be counseled to find some other church that would better serve your needs. Rather than being forced to hash these things out (and in the process learn to discern differences that are just a matter of conscience from those that are vital), we separate from one another. This is no way to grow deeper in the Love of Jesus, nor will it equip us to discern truth.

  • Dan Allen


    Great thoughts. I especially liked when you said: “because we have left the teaching to the professionals we have lost the ability to do so ourselves.” I think this is one of the biggest problems with professional ministry, it takes away the people’s opportunity to be the church, to do the “one another”s. Thanks for the comment!


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