Home Church Help

The Meeting Maze

December 17th, 2014

Meeting in a small group or home setting provides for a wonderful opportunity for the Lord to accomplish what is truly on His heart. It can also be a slippery slope involving multiple dynamics.

During a meeting of the church when all are encouraged to participate, words that are spoken, how they are spoken, and people’s inner heart attitudes – all affect the meeting on many levels.

Should you speak? Should you remain quiet? If an incorrect doctrine is shared, should you correct it? Should it be corrected privately or publically? How are you to respond when the meeting gets off track? Are you contributing to what the Lord is doing in the meeting or are you being a hindrance to God’s purpose?

What is the Spirit Saying?

The church meeting is not just a time for you to have a nice meal, hang with your friends, and then maybe have a few spiritual discussions. It is one of the most holy and important events in the Christian life. God Himself is in your midst. When you come together, the Creator of the universe has a specific agenda.

The church meeting is not a “free for all” for everyone to say whatever they want. Although you are free, it is unprofitable for you to take the meeting in a direction the Spirit is not leading in. It is unprofitable for you to “water down” what the Lord may have just said through someone else. It is unprofitable for you to be in the room while your heart remains disengaged as a spectator and as an observer. No one is benign and of no effect in the church meeting. In the spiritual realm, you are either helping and cooperating with what the Spirit is doing or you are pulling the group toward the flesh and quenching the Spirit. There is no in between. If you remain in a state of distraction, you are actually hindering the meeting, even if you are quiet.

However, IT IS PROFITABLE and edifying to all if you are diligent to submit your heart to the Spirit, to actively give yourself to loving those around you, and to be eager and willing to function in however the Lord leads you. If you are stuck in your heart and you cannot find the Spirit, ask for help. Vocalizing your need for help to others in the meeting is a gesture of faith; and faith edifies the body. We should watch over our hearts and our words during the church meeting. Learning to be in subjection to God’s Spirit at all times is critical.

Pro 4:23 “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.”

1 Cor. 14:26 “…let all things be done for edification.”

1Co 14:40 “But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.”

Submission is Not the Same Thing as Being Uptight

Often, when it is shared that we should only speak what the Spirit is saying, it introduces an “uptight” atmosphere. Out of fear, people shut down and are unwilling to participate, squelching the gift of God within them. Silence is a good thing if you are actively engaged in your heart while the Lord is not giving you anything to say. But silence due to a lack of inner participation again, contributes to pulling the meeting in the wrong direction.

There are Multiple Dynamics in a Meeting

The meeting time is a spiritual time and every heart plays a role. The quality of the meeting is not only affected by the outward words that are spoken, but perhaps even more important is the “faith level” of those present. The condition of every heart in the room has an effect on the flow of the Spirit (of lack of) during the meeting time.

Take the meeting seriously. Hours or days before the meeting takes place, prepare you heart. Submit entirely to the authority of Jesus Christ. Listen for what He would have you bring to the meeting time. Listen for what the Spirit is saying to the church. Ask the question, “Lord, what are You wanting to accomplish during the meeting time?” And then listen to what He says. Don’t just show up to the meeting so you can visit and hang out with your friends and then see what happens. I am sure you are a nice a friendly person and you will be glad to see everyone at the meeting, but a shallow heart is often an unbelieving heart. An unbelieving heart is opposed to the Spirit and is hindering what God wants to do through you and among the saints. This is not just a social event. There are hurting people who need to encounter the Lord Jesus Christ. There are chains that need to be broken. People desperately need encouragement. People need to hear the Word of God. People need their faith stirred. And YOU are God’s co-laborer. Don’t depend on “the other guy”. Open your heart to the Spirit and open your mouth to speak. Fulfill your calling and function in all of your giftings as God leads you (2 Cor. 4:13).

The Direction and Flow of the Meeting

What direction is the Spirit taking us? How should you respond to what was just shared? While you are childlike, free, and fully participating, you must learn to maintain some degree of spiritual overview discerning what God is doing among the group. Granted, the overseers and seasoned brothers are more apt and trained at doing this, but you should practice in order to continually train your spiritual capacities and senses. Consider yourself “an overseer in training”. Whatever your spiritual giftings may be, they are sharpened and tempored by time and by use.

Depending on the spiritual maturity of the group and the collective capacity to submit to, experience, and respond to the Spirit – all of these factors will determine how much “flesh” is manifested during the meeting time. If someone else shares from the flesh or takes the meeting in a direction that is clearly not the Spirit, you must learn to spiritually redirect. Forgive the fleshly brother or sister quickly. If you do not forgive, you cannot lead the group into a better place. If you lead and attempt to redirect while you are reacting in the flesh to what was just said, you will only contribute to the mess and continue to take the meeting further off course – no matter how “right” your words may be.

As you forgive, and as the Lord leads you, gently redirect the focus of the meeting back to what the Lord is saying and doing among the group. You may redirect by returning and revisiting something that was previously shared that was indeed of the Spirit. You may lightly acknowledge the fleshly comment or suggestion, but then redirect anyway.

Sometimes you will be the one who is fleshly. If you realize this is the case, humble yourself as quickly as possible and shut up. Re-engage in the meeting when you find the Lord’s peace. A public apology may be edifying and may serve as a model for all.

When To Correct, When to Rebuke, Publically or Privately.

We must maintain two things in the church meeting: First, the quality, life, and freedom of the Spirit. Secondly, we must maintain the authority of truth and reality. If either of these falter, we suffer damage. The law of God is what defined the Hebrews. It created a context for them to live life. It created an identity for them to be a people. Although we are not under the law anymore, we must hold to the authority of the scriptures. Otherwise, we are undefined, without direction, and we become stripped of our objectives. Unrepentant sin cannot be tolerated. Doctrinal error must be addressed.

Therefore, if we allow for anything to happen, then we will wind up with nothing of value. Yet, wisdom and patience teaches us that not everything needs to be corrected all of the time. Incorrect doctrines may be prevalent. But there is a time and a place to address these through love and deep relationships.

We should correct others in private whenever possible. If there is damage being done to the hearers when an incorrect teaching or comment is made, then a public check or rebuke may be in order. For example, a brother may boldly proclaim, “God became a man so that men could become God.” Obviously, this is not a sound statement. I personally would gently refute such a comment by saying, “I’m sorry brother, but could you explain where you are coming from when you say that?”

By checking the erroneous comment publically, it lets everyone else in the room know that the statement is not acceptable. At the same time, it covers the brother with love and gives him the benefit of the doubt. If a brother or sister shares a teaching in which the main points are sound, yet supporting statements are incorrect, we may have some fellowship over those comments at a later time.

When someone corrects you or discounts your valuable input in the middle of the meeting time, remain quiet. Most of the time, your pride will rear its head and you will want instant vindication. Let the arrow burn in your heart and do nothing about it. Find the peace of the Lord and let it go. Only then are you sane enough to comment, and most of the time you probably shouldn’t respond publicly.

Errors in doctrine and biblical interpretation are not the same thing as sin. We can have patience with one another as we all attain to the knowledge of the truth.

The Default of Waiting and Letting

There are always times during church gatherings in which you do not know what to do. When you do not have clear direction – wait on God. Waiting on God is your primary default in all of life. Waiting on God is not just waiting. It is waiting on God. Look to Him as you “let things be” in your heart. A posture of waiting and letting go is always better than a posture of attack and taking the bull by the horns while in the flesh. We all have much to learn.

Above all, don’t take the thoughts in this article as a new set of rules or noose to hang around your neck. Let it go. Give it back to God and trust Him to bring all things to your remembrance as you need them.

-Terry Stanley

Feel free to comment on this article below.

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5 Responses to “The Meeting Maze”

  1. Jim

    What more can I say….well done.I need a lot more of these. It helps and makes me look at myself and ask the Lord through the Holy Spirit to lead,guide,and direct me in all that I do and say.
    Thank you for sharing this with everyone

  2. Carlos

    Hi there,

    A comment, a suggestion, and a question if I might.

    First a comment. The article was excellent. Well written and of the Spirit I believe. Very encouraging and I appreciate very much receiving notice of it being here. I will definitely pass it along to others that might be interested.

    I would suggest that whoever you are that wrote it…well…sign your name to such articles. I know that you might consider it unnecessary and you might even prefer to be anonymous out of a desire to let his truths stand on their own but…Paul the Apostle himself did not fail to sign his letters.

    So there is certainly nothing I spiritual about doing so.

    It personalizes your writings and more easily allows others to interact with you on a more personal level.

    Lastly…a question.

    Do you know of any church in San Diego that might be in line with the kinds of things you mention on this site?

    I’d love to know about it so that I could get involved in such a church.

    Please email me at carlosbcg@gmail.com and let me know.

    Thanks!

    Carlos

  3. admin

    Carlos,

    I took your suggestion and added my name to the end of the article. Thanks for the heads up.

    I am currently not aware of anyone in San Diego, but usually in larger cities there are home meetings taking place. Under the “find a home church” link, which is under “contact” on the right of the main page, you might find some helpful suggestions.

    -Terry Stanley

  4. Patty

    Thank you Terry for this article. My husband and I have been out of the organized church for over two years. We pray that God will, in His time, build up a body of believers in this area. It is so good to hear from someone who has experience in Body life. We may not have that experience in our lives now, but we can still be learning.
    Patty

  5. Steve Arn

    Terry,

    Thanks for this article. I just read it this morning and was encouraged by your words.

    “But the goal of our instruction is LOVE from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5

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