Schooled in the Assembly

Many times young people wonder, 'Where is the best school for me to attend that I may grow and develop my gift as a Christian?' They
may get catalogues from various Bible schools and seminaries and are
perplexed as to which school to attend. For some, a year or so at a
Bible school may prove helpful and for those seriously interested in
learning Hebrew and Greek, the original languages of the scripture, it
may be necessary to attend a school offering such subjects. One may, of
course, attend some secular institution to prepare for a profession or

Carl E. Armerding,
PhD, attended three seminaries and was thankful for Hebrew and Greek,
hermeneutical method and theological thinking. He adds, 'Was it a great
experience? Not exactly.' Then he goes on to state three areas where he
was disappointed. 'Within the institutional church, I discovered that
informed laity were mostly a threat to the model of ministry I was
being taught, while the idea that ministry might take place in the
workplace was almost totally unexplored. Moreover, the model of
ministry itself focused almost entirely on preaching. My seminaries
also had little or no idea of what worship meant, in the sense of
people responding audibly and creatively to God's grace in Christ
Jesus.' (Christianity Today, October 8, 1990).

A healthy New Testament assembly should be an excellent place to learn God's word and to grow spiritually. Of
the early church it is said, 'And they continued steadfastly in the
apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in
prayers', Acts 2. 42. There was a plurality of teachers from the very
first. Later we read, 'Now in the church that was at Antioch there were
certain prophets and teachers', Acts 13. 1. There was no rigid
clergy-laity structure such as often marks churches today. Opportunity
for participation encouraged the development of various gifts. 'Having
then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us
use them', Rom. 12. 6. The practice of the early church encouraged
participation. 'How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together,
each of you has a psalm, has a teaching', 1 Cor. 14. 26. Knowing one
has the opportunity to participate encourages exercise of heart and
study of the word.

Hearing the word
taught by various teachers will give a balance to the teaching. God
gives different insights and perceptions to His people in this way.
Such teaching also tends to be practical; it is groomed and perfected
in the market place of life. It is sad that the Holy Spirit is so often
quenched by the clergy-laity system. 'For you can all prophesy one by
one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged', 1 Cor. 14. 31.
Those with gift for preaching and teaching God's word should have
opportunity, led and encouraged by the elders, 1 Thess. 5. 12-13.

should also be the realization that all are gifted in different ways
and should be concerned to use their gifts for the blessing of the
saints and for the proclamation of the gospel. 'But
the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of
all', 1 Cor. 12. 7. Again, a healthy New Testament church will do
everything possible to develop and mature whatever gift you may have.
There is no ungifted child of God; each should realize his value and
uniqueness. Do not bury your talent; use it for the glory of God. A
dear friend said, 'I believe God has give me the gift of helps'. He was
always busy helping people, a servant of all. Thank God for such gifts. 

A New Testament assembly emphasizes worship. Today
it is popular to orchestrate worship. The more formal churches follow
an established liturgy led by the minister with the people dutifully
responding at the proper time. Often such services are read. A
contemporary movement has a worship team with a band and song leaders
that begin a service. It may
resemble a cheerleading session with the volume increasing as the
service progresses, and much repetition. There is much enthusiasm but
again not much thought is required by the participants. It is all
planned by the worship team. The Lord's Supper centres in the Person of
Christ and not in personal experience. To remember Him requires
thought, meditation and contemplation. There should be an atmosphere of
reverence. God is holy, immortal, invisible, wise, almighty, 1 Tim. 1.
17. Each believer must be spiritually prepared to meet with God. 'Let a
man examine himself and so let him eat', 1 Cor. 11. 28. It is no light
matter to come into the presence of the living God. To remember the
death, burial and resurrection of Christ is awesome and exciting. Our
worship centres in God's Lamb, even as it did in Israel.

It is important to remember Christ in the breaking of the bread every Sunday, as the early church did, Acts 20. 7. But
many churches do this in a dead ritualistic way with unsaved church
members going through empty motions. The early church had opportunity
for participation, being led by the men, 1 Cor. 14. 34. This keeps
worship fresh. Here young believers should feel in total liberty to
begin to articulate their love and appreciation for the Lord and for
His Christ. Spiritual hymns, rich in theology, inform the mind and warm
the heart, stimulating fresh worship. Here mind and heart grow together
in love and devotion to God. This, in turn, should lead God's people to
greater consecration and obedience.

other education the child of God may get, he should realize that the
primary place for him to learn the word of God, to develop his gift and
to learn to worship is the local church. This
is all that the apostles established. 'So when they had appointed
elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to
the Lord in whom they had believed', Acts 14. 23. Saved by the grace of
God, gifted by the Holy Spirit and led by spiritual elders the saints
would grow and make progress. Paul could say, 'And now, brethren, I
commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build
you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified',
Acts 20. 32.

Looking for Christian training? Try a New Testament church!