Steve Burchett writes a very thought-provoking article called “From First Baptist Church to a House Church.” Steve is one of the elders of a church of house churches in Kansas City called Christ Fellowship. In the section below, he is describing the difference between meeting together for mutual edification and what is typically seen in church meetings:
[In their house church meetings] People are usually not hesitant to participate because no one is expected to â€œwowâ€ the group with a great performance. A spirit of grace pervades our gatherings as we seek to be led by the Spirit.
The main weekly meeting of a building-based church is usually significantly choreographed. Whether it is a liturgical service or more contemporary, the order of the meeting is not only known in advance, but the hope is that each element will come off looking excellentâ€”even professional. The expectations for a â€œgreatâ€ service are often so high that the leadership feels defeated if the music didnâ€™t noticeably move people, or the praying wasnâ€™t eloquent, or the technology miscued, or the transitions between the various parts of the service were awkward. And, above all else, some pastors sit in their studies on Monday and contemplate quitting if their sermon the previous day seemed flat. Success is dependent on a select few who too often fail to live up to the desires of those who sit and spectate.
I am not adverse to just listening when appropriate. In First Corinthians 14, Paul is primarily pleading with the church to meet together â€œin an orderly mannerâ€ (v. 40). Part of orderliness is letting people take their turn (vv. 27-33) and learning from them (v.31), but participation by more than just a few is expected. The result is that a â€œperformance mentalityâ€ is removed as the various members of the body come ready to serve and receive from the others.
I’ve been part of traditional church “worship services” and I’ve been part of participatory meetings for mutual edification. His descriptions parallel my experiences with both. What do you think?