The meetings of the early church were focused on and depended entirely upon the Jesus being Head of His church. Jesus was the reason for the gathering. He was all in all. There was no bulletin with a "Schedule of Service" in it. It was Jesus who set the agenda in the early church. Try going without a bulletin in most of today's institutional churches. The attendees want to know what is happening and in what order its happening. Deviate from the bulletin and people will point it out to you. Jesus led the early church gatherings in the same manner He desires to be Head of our church gatherings today.
In the early church Jesus spoke through whomever He desired if they were willing. This is so unlike today's pastor speaking from behind a pulpit (some call it the "sacred desk"). Today, it is the "pastor"or some other professional clergy member that is to bring the message. There was no set ways of doing church in the New Testament. Jesus was free to do what He wanted, how He wanted when He wanted and through whomever He wanted. This involved the opportunity for every member to function. Where is that opportunity in the institutional church of today?
Today's church divides the people in the active few and the passive many. You have those on the platform who "perform" and those in the congregation who serve as the audience. How far we've come from the days of the New Testament church!
It sure wasn't that way in the early church! It wasn't the sermon or the preacher that was the focal point. Every member participating prevailed. Everything that transpired in the New Testament church meetings revolved around Jesus. It was spontaneous and Spirit led. What a novel concept!
I want to give you something to consider. Frank Viola wrote in his book Reimagining Church (pg 54), "The Holy Spirit so governed the gathering that if a person received an insight while another was sharing, the second speaker was free to interject his or her thought (1 Corinthians 14:29-30). Accordingly, interruptions were a common part of the gathering (1 Corinthians 14:27-40). Such a meeting is unthinkable in today's institutional church. (Just imagine what would happen if you interrupted the pastor with a word of insight while he was delivering his sermon.)"
Yet this should be allowed and even encouraged in today's church meetings. It's not about the person doing the teaching or the preaching. It's about the body ministering to the body under the Headship of Jesus. Now that's what I call church!
One of the most interesting traits of the early church gathering was the absence of person being "in charge". Can you imagine that? Jesus led the gathers of His people through the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit. "How did that work out?" you ask. There was a great spirit of "one anothering" that went on in those meetings. What an example the early church set for us! No wonder there are 58 New Testament "one anothering" exhortations. Each person in attendance came to the gathering knowing they had the right, privilege and even responsibility to share in the meeting whatever the Lord had laid on their heart. By the way, both men and women were afforded the right and privilege to participate and share in the meetings of the church.
Let's open up our meetings and allow the "one anothering" to go on as was the norm for the early church. Let's encourage God's people to share the things God has laid on their hearts. My heart's desire is for the church to be set free to truly be the church God intends for her to be. Don't be nervous. Just be faithful and obedient and we'll see just what God will do in our midst.
Until next time, enjoy the journey!
Until next time, enjoy the journey!
It you know of someone who would be challenged and encouraged by this blog please pass on a link to them. You can share this blog easily by clicking on the links below. I believe the church needs to be set free from the bondage of the status quo she has been in for so long. The blogs over the next few weeks will help us to see how this can be done. If you are interested in reading more regarding the organic expression of church life I recommend Frank Viola's book "Reimagining Church".