Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1 Thess 5:11-14)
There are different parts of the body, but none who are spiritual are exempt from admonishing and encouraging one another. The presence of elders or evangelists shouldn’t prevent the participation of others. Instead, mature Christians should be equipping the saints to speak the truth in love.
Didn’t we a hire someone to do that job?
If you asked most people what a preacher does, they’d likely say he’s someone who lectures from a pulpit. This couldn’t be further from the Biblical pattern! Preachers in the Bible did not hide behind a lectern:
I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:20-21)
Public proclamation happens out in public. The example of a church building setting is found nowhere in the New Testament. House to house needs no explanation.
Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. (Acts 20:31)
Evangelists start new works and help immature Christians to mature. Then, if they’re going to continue doing the work of an evangelist, they move on. They participate in an established assembly just like every other Christian does. How does the Bible describe a Christian assembly?
When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching… so that all may learn and all may be exhorted… recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment… (See 1 Cor 14:26-40)
Contrast the Bible’s description of mutual edification with the clergy/laity format. Webster’s dictionary defines clergy as a person ordained for religious service: ministers, priests, rabbis, etc; and laity as all the people not included among the clergy. As we’ve previously discussed, every person who has been baptized into Christ was ordained for religious service. We are all sanctified (See 1 Cor 6:11). Every Christian is a priest and a minister.
In the clergy/laity system, does each one have a psalm or a teaching? Nope. The clergy – whether he’s called a pastor, preacher, etc. – is expected to stand and deliver every week. This format has severe limitations that create perpetual immaturity:
- The gifts of the members are largely undeveloped
- Most members miss the growth experience of edifying others
- There’s different teaching and learning styles
- One speaker edifies some
- Multiple speakers edify many
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Heb 10:23-25)
Considering how to stimulate and encourage one another is a mindset that we are to develop. Laity never do because they consider that to be someone else’s job. They are always dependant on someone else to do their religious thinking.
And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another. (Rom 15:14)
Paul had confidence in the disciple’s ability to admonish one another. Clergy fail to demonstrate this same confidence. What would we do without them lording it over the faith?
Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb 3:13)