“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24?-?25)
I have heard this verse used to encourage people to go to church. And to challenge those who have given up going to church. But what if this verse is NOT describing what we do when we go to church? Do our church gatherings actually accomplish what this verse suggests?
“How we may spur one another… encouraging one another!” As far as I know, there is very little “us” involved in spurring and encouraging. I know from personal experience that the large majority of spurring and encouraging is not “one another” but “one to the others”, namely me. I am the motivational speaker, everyone else listens, hopefully. A few others help, the worship leaders, an elder and a deacon (sometimes reluctantly). But for the most part, we come to be fed, to be encouraged, to be moved, to be challenged. We come to be passive, to be inactive, to be spoon fed. And then we evaluate and/or criticize the meal. Or leave to find a church with a better chef.
Almost every church I know uses this model of “meeting together”, that is, one person doing the spurring and encouraging while everyone else says or does little or nothing.
Granted, we do shake hands at the beginning of the service (???). And we do have the fellowship time after the service. For some that participate, this may be a good time for mutual spurring and encouraging. But most of the conversations I see are not so much mutual encouragement as they are cliquing and kletzing. If this is what we mean by spurring and encouraging, then lets make THIS the most important part of our gathering together, and not an optional extra.
“Toward love and good deeds”. This has often been my emphasis, focusing on love and good deeds. But I hear criticism about that. Too much focus on love, too much talk about doing stuff. More deep bible teaching, more entertaining or inspirational or motivational preaching.
“As you see the Day approaching.” The ‘Day’ refers to not only the actual last day, but the increasing challenges and pressures of the last days. Days when faith is tested, persecution increases, believers start backsliding or falling away. In other words, NOW! Look at the church as we experience it, the Day is approaching! Churches are shrinking, people are turning away from faith.
“Let us consider how…” Now is the time to RECONSIDER how meet together. Its not working. This verse suggests there are others ways. Ways that do not make the people passive, but active. Expecting one or a few people to spur and encourage one another is not smart or effective. One of the top complaints among church leaders is how inactive many members are. Its time to start considering ways to activate everyone in the task of spurring and encouraging one other.
Someone said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Have our church gatherings become insane?
Is anyone else out there sensing that our church gatherings are not accomplishing what this verse is talking about? Is anyone else out there interested in considering HOW we can do a better job at spurring and encouraging one another toward love and good deeds, especially now as we sense the Day approaching? I would love to hear from you!