As I mentioned in the first post in this series, I want to highlight some of the comments that have been left on my blog posts during the past week. Hopefully, this will give more visibility to some of the reasons that I love blogging – dialog and interaction.
Thanks for this post brother. We left the institution after pastoring for 20 years and relocated. Efforts at simple church have ranged from visiting a house church headed by a megalomaniac, being told there was no room at the inn when inquiring about visiting another home group, and various attempts to go sit in a pew which induced *total boredom*. Efforts to connect with others re: planting something have not been fruitful. We do have limited fellowship with some here who are planted in the institution. It is FAR from where we want to be–living in an organic community. Jon’s words could very well be my own. Feeling alone and waiting…
I hope this doesn’t come off as being semantic, but I acutally am alone in feeling alone. It’s true that I’m not the only one, and I know that there are many thousands of others out there, but I’m still alone. I think that knowing that there are many others like me but without the ability to do anything about it is even more frustrating.
My first three churches had great fellowship, despite fitting the “traditional” label. Every Sunday meant an entire day of fellowship (until midnight if you wanted). All that was necessary was to show up. Just that simple. There was not much hard work to do to accomplish this. Everybody simply expected that there would be comminity and there was. You didn’t even have to think about it. Families of all sizes and singles. Church leaders. We got together during the week, too. Yes, there was work in helping others that was hard, but community took nearly no effort. The reason I think is because it existed and I existed in the same place and time.
For a short period of time there was a group of us from our church that would band together and go do things for people in our congregation. With one Grandma who is raising her twin grandchildren on her own we cleaned up her front and back yards, fixed her fence, and tore down a dangerous back deck and rebuilt a safe one. Another lady in our Body needed some painting done so we banded together and spent a whole day painting, and through that was able to replace one of her neighbor’s front door. We searched and prayed for other opportunities to just love and serve people but so many turned us down because they felt embarrassed or something! But the people we did serve were blessed and so were we! It was a beautiful thing to be a part of and witness. I’m still looking for those opportunities and now I just seek them out on my own and ask others to join in.
And David left this comment on my post “Can a traditional church allow more participation?“:
I would agree that the small group really is church. The large group is also an expression of church. I guess, technically, it would be more accurate to use the same language with the small group–it is also an expression of church. But, if I had to choose between the two, I would say that, for the very reason we are discussing here, biblically, the small group is more important than the big group.
As far as 1 Cor. 14:26 is concerned, I know this is a verse that you have thought about in depth, and that you also know a lot more Greek than I do. But I just went back and read a lot of English translations of this verse. The great majority use the word “when” instead of “whenever.” I am not sure, but the impression I get from this, is that the list of things that happens is descriptive, not prescriptive. In any case, if we want to make it prescriptive, then we would probably need to say that there should be tongues and interpretation of tongues in every church meeting. I does seem prescriptive that “everything should be done for edification.”
In any case, we don’t have a whole lot of descriptions in the NT of church meetings. I suppose you could say the meeting in Troas in Acts 20 is another example. You could argue that, due to the use of διαλέγομαι that the meeting was participative. But I don’t see the same elements as in 1 Cor. 14:26–i.e. no hymns, no revelation, no tongues, no interpretation of tongues–at least not specifically mentioned; just interactive teaching, led by Paul, and sharing in the Lord’s Supper. I guess you have the prayer meeting where the believers were gathered in the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, praying for Peter, as well. But once again, the only activity specifically mentioned there is prayer. There are probably a few other examples as well, but those are the ones that come to mind. So, what I gather from this is, not every NT church meeting necessarily had to follow the format of 1 Cor 14:26. The important thing is that, in the ongoing life of the church, there was adequate opportunity for participation and “one another” ministry.