the weblog of Alan Knox

Who is qualified to speak during the meeting?

Posted by on Dec 26, 2007 in edification, gathering | 11 comments

This blog post and the next post were published in May of 2006 (see “Who is qualified to speak during the meeting?” and “Who is responsible for speaking during the meeting?“). I thought my newer readers might enjoy these posts. My thoughts in this area have not changed much in the last year and a half.

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“For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.” (1 Corinthians 14:31)

Does Paul really mean “all”? Does he really mean that every believer in the meeting has the potential for speaking edifying words during the assembly of the church? Does he really expect that a new believer could speak words that would “teach” a pastor?

The answer to all of these questions must be “Yes!”

Consider the ones to whom Paul is writing. For the most part, they do not have a personal copy of the Scriptures. And yet, Paul expects all of them to be able to speak during the meeting. “Knowing” Scripture must not be a prerequisite for speaking during the assembly.

So, what qualifies someone to speak during the meeting? In the context of 1 Corinthians 12-14, Paul offers three different qualifications:

1) The person must be endwelled by the Spirit of God, and therefore gifted by the Spirit.

2) The person must speak from a motivation of love.

3) The person must speak in order to edify the body of Christ.

These are the only qualifications. Education is not a qualification. Experience is not a qualification. Speaking ability is not a qualification.

Who is allowed to speak in our assemblies? Perhaps there are times when those “qualified” should be silent in order to allow others to speak “that all may learn and all may be encouraged.”


11 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 12-26-2007

    To the point and simple. Just the way I like it! I don’t know why there is so much controversy on this subject, especially for one of these “persons” to be a sister in Christ. My last post on this generated over a hundred comments, most of them dealing with whether or not a woman is one who is “qualified to speak during the meeting.”

  2. 12-26-2007

    Alan,

    Amen to these posts. By God’s grace, we have the benefit of allowing all of the brethren (sisters included – cf. 1 Cor. 11:5) to speak during our church meeting for the edification of the entire body. Of course, we are still working the kinks out because we have folks who are pre-programmed to sit down and be completely silent through years of attending institutional churches that focus on one man’s gifts versus utilizing “one-another’s gifts for the edification of the entire body.

  3. 12-26-2007

    This is the clear meaning of the passage – that all may speak in order for all to be edified. When a select few set themselves up as the only authorities to speak in the church and as the designated gate-keepers to keep out the ones that they personally do not approve of, we find ourselves far from the clear instructions of Paul. When the ones God has gifted are stopped from speaking for the common good, the body of Christ is hurt.

  4. 12-26-2007

    Guy,

    I wonder why the question always turns to whether or not women can speak? To me, the main question that needs to be answered today is, “Why is only one person speaking?”

    Dusty,

    I agree that we are programmed to sit silently and listen. We are taught that this demonstrates worship and reverence. Sometimes, even unscriptural teachings are difficult to unteach.

    Cheryl,

    You said: “When the ones God has gifted are stopped from speaking for the common good, the body of Christ is hurt.”

    I wish more people would meditate on this. At times God has gifted me to speak. When I do not speak – regardless of the plan or my position – , then I am disobeying God and harming the church. At times, God has not gifted me to speak. When I speak anyway – regardless of the plan or my position – , then I am disobeying God and harming the church.

    -Alan

  5. 12-27-2007

    At times, God has not gifted me to speak. When I speak anyway – regardless of the plan or my position – , then I am disobeying God and harming the church.

    Alan,

    What you’ve said here is so important. How many pastors teach (viz. “preach”) week after week and really don’t have many things worthy to say because they’re just trying to fulfill their “job description”? Thus, I believe it would be better for our meetings to be open and participatory (yet done decently and in order – 1 Cor. 14:40) so as to allow anyone who has been gifted by the Holy Spirit to speak or sing for the edification of everyone else. It certainly doesn’t have to be a 45 minute speaking session. It could be anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 minutes and there could easily be more than one or two people interacting with the Scriptures, or whatever insight the other brother or sister just gave. This type of mutual give and take is a wonderful thing to watch happen.

    However, the people have to be ready to interact and their degree of interaction will usually be reflective of their study time, meditation, prayer time alone and with their family, and in the practical application of the Christian worldview to their daily course of life (or lack thereof).

  6. 12-27-2007

    Great stuff Alan. We truly are all equipped to serve and to participate – the qualifications however MUST surely be intact.

  7. 12-27-2007

    Dusty,

    The point that you bring out is one of the most difficult for many people to accept. The assumption is that the “pastor” is always qualified and responsible to speak because of his “office”.

    Joel,

    Today, I believe that all are gifted and all are capable, but not all are allowed.

    -Alan

  8. 12-27-2007

    Dusman wrote, “However, the people have to be ready to interact and their degree of interaction will usually be reflective of their study time, meditation, prayer time alone and with their family, and in the practical application of the Christian worldview to their daily course of life (or lack thereof).”

    Amen to that. We provide opportunities for people to speak, what some call open ministry. I am often disappointed by how few people take the opportunity, and I think it’s because we come spiritually unprepared. (I’m guilty as well.)

  9. 12-27-2007

    Mark,

    Welcome to my blog and thank you for the comment! I have recently recognized that I rarely participate in the meeting when I’m not scheduled to speak. I realize that I need to be an example in this area too.

    -Alan

  10. 12-30-2007

    Often the unspoken assumption is, “I don’t speak because I’m not paid to speak.” We’ve embraced the professional clergy concept hook, line, and sinker. And then you must deal with the insecurities of those who are employed in this role, “If everyone gets to speak, then why am I here?”

  11. 12-30-2007

    Bill,

    Those are both important questions. Unfortunately, those questions are usually ignored and we remain with the status quo. I think there are very good answers to both questions. 1) We don’t speak because we are paid, but because we desire to build up the body of Christ and we believe that God wants us to speak. 2) Elders are needed as mature examples of followers of Jesus Christ.

    -Alan