the weblog of Alan Knox

Preparation, Spontaneity, and the Work of the Spirit when we Gather

Posted by on May 16, 2012 in blog links, gathering, spirit/holy spirit | 9 comments

Eric at “A Pilgrim’s Progress” has been writing a lot of good, thought-provoking posts lately. I really enjoyed his post called “We Really Can Trust the Holy Spirit.” His post is about the work of the Holy Spirit when we are gathered together with other believers – whether it is a gathering that was planned or unplanned.

There is often disagreement among the church today about what role “preparation” and “spontaneity” should play when we gather together. Should we plan what we are going to say (i.e., “when you come together, each one has a hymn, an instruction, a revelation, a tongue, an interpretation”)? Or do we speak when the Spirit spontaneously directs us to speak (i.e., “and if the Spirit reveals something to someone sitting…”)? Both passages that I paraphrased are in the same context in 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. So, both preparation and spontaneity seem to be in view in Paul’s instructions.

This is what Eric says:

I’ve found that the Spirit tends to use our planning/preparation in the gatherings, but this may be in ways that we could not predict. For example, I plan to study over a passage of scripture tonight. I may mention it tomorrow or I may not. I really don’t know. The Spirit will make it clear to me tomorrow whether or not I should speak about it.

It is fascinating the way the Spirit frequently brings things together as Christians gather. It happens time after time in our small fellowship. One person will read a passage that relates exactly to what someone else is going through in life. We might sing a song that has a connection to what someone else is dealing with. The list goes on and on.

So, do we prepare before we gather with other believers? Sure. Do we expect and depend on the work of the Spirit when we gather together? Yes. (Although, I do think there is a problem when someone studies ONLY to have something to say when the church gathers.)

Like Eric said above, as the Spirit guides us outside of our times together, he can also guide us during our times together. We may come together with other believers expecting (and even prepared) to say something or teach something, but that may not be what God has planned. So, we trust him to know when to speak as well as what to speak.

Like Eric said, we really can trust the Holy Spirit.


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  1. 5-16-2012

    Alan, Thank you for sharing this post. Like Eric said, we really can trust the Holy Spirit. What we need to instruct new believers in, is how all of this works. I have a theory: When Adam fell, mankind was diminished from a fully living spirit, with a soul and body, to a soul and a body. Ever since then we have come to rely on our intellect for all decisions. With life re-implanted within us by the Holy Spirit, that formerly deceased spirit is made alive in Christ. This opens for us, for the first time since the garden, the possibility of knowing God personally. The knowing God as His children, is the kingdom Jesus spoke of throughout the Gospels.
    Spiritual maturity, I think, is what the enemy opposes most. Infants do not threaten the devils kingdom world, but maturing children of God do.

  2. 5-16-2012

    Yes we can trust The Holy Spirit as in as Jesus instructed the disciples in Matthew 10:16-23 I like the part that says take no thought, and so how deep does this go, take no thought

  3. 5-16-2012

    Right on the money!

  4. 5-16-2012

    Well said – we have found that to be true of us too…. that we all “plan” – as in write down scriptures/music/poem/art on whatever theme/scriptures God has been using in our lives that week… and sometimes we feel lead to share, sometimes we don’t. Me personally I tend to choose 2 or 3 things and then will share 1 (or non) based on how the Spirit leads. It’s amazing how He intertwines it – beautiful! 🙂

  5. 5-17-2012

    I concur, Howard

  6. 5-17-2012

    I concur again

  7. 5-17-2012


    What is your opinion of when the church gathers?

    I had a Systematic Theology class years ago, that while it discussed the church was not just the building but the community itself; they seemed to suggest a gathering that took part in, say, the Lord’s supper or some other church function, was then participating or acting as the church.

    Others seem to suggest believer gathering together is enough to constitute church.

    When would you say “church” is in session?

    For example, if I get together with two others who are interested in studying the bible and we hold a bible study together once a week, are we a church? I guess I’ve always stopped short of saying it would be because we don’t take the Lord’s supper or do any other “sacramental” things. However God’s word says where two or three are gathered together in His name He is there with them.

    What type of gathering makes “church in session” vs. being just a gathering with no specifict marks of being a church?

  8. 5-17-2012


    I agree. We can help one another learn what it means to trust the Holy Spirit in ever aspect of our lives, even when we are gathering with other believers.


    Yes, anxiety and worry (as found in the Matthew 10 passage) can cause us to take our eyes off of Jesus as our only source of hope and strength.


    Thanks! I agree that Eric’s post is right on the money.


    Interesting… I’ve never thought of writing stuff down. That’s a good idea.


    The Greek term “ekklesia” points to a gathering or assembly. It was used to refer to a group of many different things. In this case, I use the term “church” to refer to a gathering of God’s people. It could be a large number or small number, regular or irregular, planned or spontaneous. So, the way I understand it, whenever you are with one or more brothers or sisters in Christ, you are God’s church (God’s assembly/gathering).


  9. 5-17-2012

    Vincent, from howard if I may please.
    The two or three, gathered and you being a believer, God living in you, to me constitutes church in you, for God will never forsake you or leave you, this is the two God and you. So as you go in this world carry the Gospel (LOVE) with you and you will be ready to give an answer for your joy, peace and righteousness in or out of season in and of The Holy Ghost. When one realizes it is not themself, yet God doing the Love, others come to see the truth that God along with you just love them period, God gets all the credit,who in turn credits you