There must be participation in Church relationships—in the Church Messiah Jesus builds. (Mt 16:18). There is little participation in pulpit, platform, or the internet Church venues and none is expected. Even though those venues can be helpful, they lack person to person, heart to heart, love one another participation.
Love one another participation gradually eroded
In the early church, love one another participation gradually eroded as the number of those who believed in and followed Messiah Jesus dramatically increased. Rather than continuing to meet in small groups in homes, crowds gathered in larger accommodations. Naturally, person to person, heart to heart, love one another interaction decreased, because personal connections cannot be established and maintained in large groups.
Think about it. Participation in table conversation is much more intimate than participation in a crowd. Jesus only shared the Passover supper with 12 apostles. Their interaction was personal (John 13; 14; 15). Conversely, when Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount or spoke at the feeding of the 5,000, he did not expect other than listening participation.
In 313 AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine made/declared all Roman citizens Christians. Participation was not permitted. Instead, Constantine provided the existing clergy with temples as extravagant as those of the heathens, dressed clergy in royal vestments and backed them with the sword of Rome. Thus the clergy laity class distinction became entrenched and bound Christians to the pew. That catastrophe evolved into the dark ages until the Protestant Reformation partially reversed it.
Today, in the typical church maintaining current church customs, both clergy and laity are trapped by what is expected of them. It still hasn’t dawned on many Christians that Messiah Jesus has given each of us grace and equippers a to equip us for the work of ministry in his Church.
“Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”
11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,e to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Eph 4:11-16 ESV).
Love one another where each part is working properly is not being taught.
In the typical church, such each part is working properly participation has not been taught to clergy or laity. So, we see ourselves more as spectators than working parts of the body of Christ. Spectators are not expected to participate, so, many parts of the body of Christ are not working properly. We expect only to listen to a sermon presented by clergy, pray and worship shoulder to shoulder looking at the back of the heads of the people in front of us, silently agree or disagree with the sermon and put money in the collection plate.
For participation, small groups are vital.
In his teaching on participation, Paul asks: “How is it then, brethren (brothers and sisters)? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” 1 Corinthians 14:26 NKJV
Messiah Jesus commands us to participate.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35