Why Go to Class?
by Bryan Matthew Dockens
Besides assembling for worship on the first day of the week, this church meets regularly to study the scriptures in class settings. Some may ignore these opportunities and others may simply take them for granted, so it is worth inquiring: Why go to class?
We go to class because "He gave some to be … teachers". The Lord equipped the church with people in various roles to foster its growth, as Paul penned, "He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-12). Certainly, each position listed – apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor – is one whose work includes teaching. Nevertheless, mentioning "teachers" as a distinct role implies that it is possible to be a teacher without being an apostle, prophet, evangelist, or pastor. Since there are teachers who are not evangelists or pastors, then there must be teaching that is neither preaching nor shepherding. A class is the setting in which such teaching would occur. By neglecting to participate in these classes, one diminishes the ability of the body to effectively edify itself.
We go to class because some need "milk" and some need "meat". Any healthy church will include members from across the spectrum of spiritual growth. There will be the mature and knowledgeable, as well as the uninformed, and those in between. Members of every standing are necessary (I Corinthians 12:14-24), and each has different needs, as it is written, "For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:13-14). Just as a nursing infant would choke if fed a steak or pork chop, so the novice Christian may be overwhelmed by some of the controversies debated among brethren, requiring instead "the first principles of the oracles of God" (Hebrews 5:12). Paul explained to the Corinthians, "I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it" (I Corinthians 3:2). Conversely, an adult cannot receive sufficient nourishment from milk. It will not sustain him; he needs meat. The Christian who is fed nothing but a constant repetition of "the elementary principles" (Hebrews 6:1) will never grow to the maturity desired by God. As Paul admonished, "Brethren, do not be children in understanding … but in understanding be mature" (I Corinthians 14:20). Thus, opportunities are needed to address various members of the church at their respective levels of knowledge and growth. Classes furnished by the church are an appropriate setting in which to accomplish this.
Christians have a responsibility to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18) and the Lord has supplied the church with teachers to expedite this purpose (Ephesians 4:14-16). Members of the church need to let the teachers teach by attending and participating in their classes.