- We pick a time and place to meet
- Somebody brings food.
- Somebody starts a time of prayer. God's presence is tangible as we seek to connect with him through prayer.
- A few people share something God is saying to them (share how God is encouraging them, comforting them, teaching them, walking with them, loving them). God's presence is tangible as we listen and observe what He is saying and doing in each others lives.
- Others reply with Scripture or a word of encouragement or prayer or even a song.
- Some occasions will require discernment
- Some Scripture is read (as a group and/or as people share). God's speaks to us during this time.
- Somebody may lead/share songs of worship
- In all the above the direction we go won't be a direction any of us planned, but a direction God is leading
I'm looking for believers to practice being part of Christ's living body, and looking to how that was was modeled to us by believers in the New Testament.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. "
I'm desiring people to practice:
- Loving one another (John 13:34-35, Romans 13:8, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 3:11, 1 John 3:23, 1 John 4:11, 1 John 4:12, 2 John 1:5)
- Praying for one another (Ephesians 6:18)
- encouraging one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 10:25)
- Being devoted to one another (Romans 12:10)
- Honoring one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10)
- Living in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16)
- Accepting one another (Romans 15:7)
- Instructing one another (Romans 15:14)
- Teaching and admonishing one another (Colossians 3:16)
- Serving one another (Galatians 5:13) - this one may usually happen outside our regularly scheduled gathering, at other people's homes
- Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Singing and making music in our hearts to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19)
- Submitting to one another (Ephesians 5:21)
- Bearing with each other and forgiving whatever grievances you may have against one another (Colossians 3:13)
I think if we allow Christ to lead us, every believer can practice all of the things above. Note that teaching can be done verbally as well as by modeling a behavior... even if you don't like giving speeches. Like how a parent teaches a child to draw, swim, ride a bike...
Each of us will be more gifted in certain areas. I'd love to see that coming through.
I'm not saying other study formats are wrong. Of course there is nothing wrong with doing a video series, a book study, a topical Bible study guide, pre-planned devotionals, listening to sermons or singing along with a worship band. Yet as I have been studying the early New Testament church it seems there was less reliance on pre-planned/structured meeting and more on God moving within their midst freely (more like I outlined above). I believe Jesus' Spirit led the early believers when they gathered, and we can experience that more clearly too.
I'm not expecting this to happen at a large Sunday morning gathering, and I haven't sensed God placing this desire on the hearts of any brothers and sisters near to me. Maybe it is something I need to start practicing at home first...