This weekend, my son Jeremy and I are attending a House Church Workshop put on by New Testament Restoration Fellowship. Our friend, Lew from “The Pursuit” was able to attend the conference this morning. We also talked for a few minutes with Dusty from “Grace in the Triad” and Les from “Joining God in His Work“.
The notes below are from the second session called “Participatory Church Meetings” which was led by Steve Atkerson. These thoughts are primarily Steve’s, and not my own. I’ll be glad to interact with any of the information below in the comments.
Session 2 â€“ Participatory Church Meetings
Key passage is 1 Corinthians 14:26
What was this church meeting like? Diverse, spontaneous (not scripted), significant participation. The typical modern church removes the phrase â€œeach oneâ€ and replaces them with the phrase “only oneâ€. This is not to be critical, but to demonstrate the contrast between what normally happens when the church meets and what is described in Scripture. Even if 1 Cor 14:26 is a criticism of what is happening in Corinth, his solution in the verses that follow do not do away with this standard. Instead, Paulâ€™s instructions that follow vs. 26 reinforces this verse.
When Paul went to the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch, he spoke during the meeting in spite of the fact that he was a complete stranger to them?
A great multitude spoke during their synagogue meeting.
It was customary for Paul to go to the synagogue and reason with them during their meeting.
See also Acts 17:10-11, 17; Acts 18:4; Acts 19:8
The custom for these early Christian believers was to meet together in a way that was more participatory. Many people were allowed to speak and discuss issues in the synagogue â€“ even strangers.
Activities in the early church:
1 Corinthians 14:26; Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19
Each person chose songs to sing when the church met. One person did not choose all the songs. Gifted musicians are a great blessing to the church, but they should facilitate the singing; they should not dominate the meeting. Singing was part of the early church meeting (1 Cor 14:26), but it did not dominate the early church meeting.
1 Cor 14:26; Matt 28:19-20; Acts 2:42; Rom 12:7; 1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11; 1 Tim 1:3, 2:11-15; James 3:1
Again, teaching was part of the early church meeting, but it did not dominate the meeting. Any of the believers had an opportunity to teach each time the church met. It does not appear that the church meeting is the time for heavy, in depth teaching. Instead, it looks like it was better to have several people teach a little than to have one person to teach a lot.
Acts 20:7 (not â€œpreachedâ€ but â€œdiscuss or dialogâ€)
To preach in Scripture is to be a herald of the gospel. In the NT, preaching did not occur during a church meeting. Instead, preaching is associated with evangelism.
- Various charismatic gifts
1 Cor 14:26 (â€œrevelations, tongues, and interpretationsâ€)
- Other activities
Acts 2:42 â€“ prayer
1 Tim 4:13 â€“ public reading of Scripture
Acts 14:26-27 â€“ reports from missionaries
What is the prerequisite for anything that is said or done in a church meeting? It must be edifying. To be edifying means that it must build up the church â€“ to encourage them, to help mature them. Just because it is a participatory meeting does not mean that anyone can say anything that they want to say. Leaders are there to work â€œbehind the scenesâ€ with those who speak or act in ways that are not edifying.
Leaders tend to make the church into whatever their gifts are. Because of this, leaders must be careful to make sure that they allow all people to use their gifts, not just use gifts that are like the leadersâ€™ gifts.
This famous passage about â€œchurch meetingsâ€ assumes that there is a lot of â€œone anotherâ€™ingâ€ going on. You can have a significant impact on a church meeting by considering how to stir one another up before hand. This type of church meeting requires a lot of work for each person before the actual church meeting.
A Worship Service
Romans 12:1-2; John 4:21-24
The NT never refers to a church meeting as a worship service. To call a church meeting a â€œworship serviceâ€ is to imply that the purpose of the meeting is to worship God. You can be edified in a â€œworship serviceâ€, but the traditional â€œworship serviceâ€ is not the way that the NT says the church should edify itself. Everything that we do in life should be worship to God.
1 Cor 14:27-28
Speaking in tongues does not have to happen when the church meets. If speaking in tongues does happen, then interpretation must happen. Only two or three people should speak in tongues â€“ and only one at a time. Tongues must be interpreted so that it will edify the church. You can have a legitimate gift from God that God does not want you to exercise when the church meets.
1 Cor 14:29-33; 1 Thess 5:19-22
Two or three prophets should speak and the prophecies must be tried (judged or tested). Only one prophet could speak at a time so that the people can be edified. Prophets must be silent when another prophet stands to speak a prophecy. Again, there may be times when God reveals something to a prophet, but God does not want the prophet to exercise his gift when the church meets.
The Role of Women
1 Cor 14:33b-35
You have to do something with this passage. This seems to say that women should not speak when the church meets. But, more than expressing that women should be silent, this is a command for the men to ask questions, either their own questions or questions that their wives raise. This creates a dynamic silence that forces the men to act; it compels the men into leadership. Women will normally talk first, but God wants the men to take the leadership.
1 Cor 14:36
Did the word of God come forth from you? (No) Did the word of God come only to you? (No) These questions function to get the readers to obey what God is telling them through Paul.
The Lordâ€™s Command
1 Cor 14:37
Verse 37 continues by saying that the ones who are prophets or who are spiritual will recognize that what Paul says here is actually Godâ€™s commands. If you do not follow Godâ€™s command, then the burden is on you to explain why.
1 Cor 14:28
While the meaning of this verse is unclear, it indicates that there is some penalty for ignoring what Paul is teaching.
1 Cor 14:39-40
1) Desire earnestly to prophesy
2) Do not forbid speaking in tongues
3) Let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner
A meeting of a smaller group of believers is more conducive to Paulâ€™s teachings in 1 Cor 14:26-40. When you have more people, it starts hurting what happens when the church meets together.
What conclusions can be drawn from 1 Corinthians 14 about the way God desires church meetings to be conducted?
- Participatory â€“ different people exercising their gifts
- Fitting and orderly â€“ one at a time
- Following the Lordâ€™s Command