Blog - Supporting Believers

Church-from-Scratch: "Each Othering" (Part 2)

Monday, November 26, 2012

"If you could create it from scratch,” a reader wrote, "what would a church look like that fully embodied a proper theology of work and really empowered its members to be ministers in the workplace?” This is the second blog in a series responding to this question.

To build the theology of work into its DNA, a church-from-scratch should settle on the New Testament’s reason for gathering: to build up, spur on, equip, and encourage one another. By contrast, our church traditions lead us to think we assemble to worship. So we have worship centers, worship services, worship teams, worship music, and worship leaders.

But no less than I. Howard Marshall, the respected evangelical Bible scholar, thinks otherwise. In "How Far Did the Early Christians Worship God?” Marshall, after a careful study of the New Testament words for "worship,” writes:

 "From this survey of the ‘worship’ language in the New Testament a firm result emerges. Although the whole activity of Christians can be described as the service of God and they are engaged throughout their lives in worshipping him, yet this vocabulary is not applied in any specific way to Christian meetings.” He says further that, "the vocabulary of worship is used remarkably infrequently in the descriptions of Christian meetings.”

Instead, the "gathering” passages in the New Testament focus on "each-othering.” For example, in Heb. 10:24-25, why are we not to give up meeting together? So that we may encourage each other and spur one another on to love and good works. Why, in I Cor. 14:26-31, is it possible for all present to speak in various ways to the others in the meeting? For the "strengthening of the church” and so that "everyone may be instructed and encouraged.”

As pictured in the graphic, we ought to worship in all we do, 24/7—even when we assemble. But what if we shrink our idea of worship to a weekly meeting with other believers—or (smaller yet) just to singing with them? Our undersized concept of worship will leave no room for something as "unspiritual” as our daily work. But what if from the outset a church structures its meetings to cultivate mutual up-building in all areas of life? To return to the reader’s question, what possibilities might that open up for workplace equipping?

If the meeting format allows it, those with decades of experience in the workplace can share how God uses them as light and salt there. Those with gifts of instruction can open up the richness of what the Bible says about our everyday work. And newbies to the work world can ask questions that stimulate others to help them prepare for the places to which God will send them to represent his Kingdom during the bulk of their waking hours.

Imagine the dialog coming from that kind of mutual encouragement from the Scriptures and from the experience of those seeing God move in the work world. It could cause those present to suck in their breath in awe as they realize what his Spirit is doing through ordinary people in their daily lives. In this way real—not artificially stimulated—worship would arise from the assembly to the glory of God.

The body of Christ in includes a variety of members with diverse callings and gifts. When those members assemble, they must have the opportunity to cross-enrich each other. As Paul puts it in Eph. 4:16, the whole body "grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” When it meets, the from-scratch church should aim for each-othering.

Comments (3)

Laxshmi Jaskaran (11/27/2012 4:32:59 AM)
Hello Sir, I agree that all we do in our everyday life is our worship to God.I believe we as restored believers will always have a problem because of our nature to rule.If the TOW was started from -scratch church there would be still a problem.Mankind always have the answer for the problem, but it is time for the church to be the answer for the conflicts it is facing today. This includes all of us who are called to love God and our neighbour.
Christian Overman (11/27/2012 4:33:20 PM)

Your blog post is very timely, and encouraging. Just a couple of days ago, I expressed to my wife an idea of meeting with workers in a particular occupation as a "Sunday School" class group. We would specifically talk about how we can be "salt" and "light" in the context of the shared occupation, and share with one another how things went during the past week, and discuss "plans" for the coming week.

This idea fits in beautifully with what you are talking about.

Thanks! I receive it as an encouragment from the Lord!

Greg Scroggins (11/28/2012 5:37:40 AM)
This article is very good. It reminds me that we are to serve Him with every moment of our lives...........there is no "coasting" during the ride of life. Also, may we remember that we cannot do this in our own strength. We need to remember what we read in Ephesians 1:19,20 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms.

So, may we strive to obey Christ in the moment asking Him to lead and guide us and to give us the "whatever" is needed to live as bright lights in a dark world that so desperately needs Jesus.

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