Home > Simply Church > Simply Church: My Issues #2

Simply Church: My Issues #2

I think that the way that the gathering of believers is structured has a tendency to limit the participation of the believers, instead focusing in on the participation of just a few. Scripture is pretty clear that all believers have gifts to be used for the building up of the body. The staple gathering of the modern church only promotes a handful of gifts from a handful of people. There is lots of room in the gathering for those with gifts of serving and generosity, but for gifts like prophecy and teaching, the foundational gathering does not support these being used by the average member of the community.

In Corinthians, Paul provides an interesting glimpse into what a gathering for the Corinthian church looks like. Paul says, “When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a language, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” In their church service, the congregation serves eachother with the gifts that they have been given. It is not that some people with gifts serve the others through a presentation. It is not a chaotic conversation, but those who have something that they believe their brothers and sisters should hear are given the chance to present their teaching, their revelation, or even speak to the congregation in a foreign language, so long as someone is there who knows that language that they may interpret. This manner of gathering seems to me to be much more like a body where all parts are of equal value and necessity for the body to function properly.

Honestly, the format of the stage driven gathering of believers is very reminiscent of the Catholic Church. The Reformation might have changed a lot of the theology, but it has maintained a lot of the structure. This isn’t a Biblical analysis, but an experiential one. There is something about a handful of figureheads driving the service that often results in a relational dynamic different from most peer relationships.

Two things frequently happen. First, the stage performer becomes someone that is looked up to by others. People respond differently to this person than they do with their other brothers and sisters. It’s not the case with every member of every congregation, but it happens. People often start looking to the Sunday preacher to tell them what to do in their life, counsel them, be God’s voice to them. So often, people look to the preacher as a mediator between them and God. The few times I have spoken, even messages only 10 minutes long, the way that people treat me after that service has been way different than normal. It feels like there is something about the format that creates the role of the priest in the lives of believers who are supposed to be priests themselves.

Along with this, responsibility for ministry is often put on the figureheads of the gathering of believers by the rest of the congregation. The work charged to all followers of Jesus, to go and make disciples of all nations and baptizing them in the name of the Father, son, and Holy Spirit has a way of becoming the work of the church staff and a handful of leaders, and not the work of everyone who follows Jesus. It feels like sometimes people think the extent of their work in strengthening, building, and expanding the Kingdom of God is to bring people to a church service where the church staff can minister to them. No doubt this task is admirable, but it is also much smaller than Jesus’ directive of disciple making and ushering people into the New Covenant through baptism.

I just wonder if there’s a better way.

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