Tuesday, March 10, 2015

One/Few Voices Versus A Multiplicity Of Voices

Josh Gelatt is at it again, this time with a post Multiple Voices: The Bible's Guide to Organizing a Church Service. Josh is full-time pastor of a pretty decent sized church in West Liberty, Ohio, a fellowship my family and I were blessed to visit when Josh was installed as their pastor, but what he writes really resonates with me. Here is a snippet.
Now compare this picture with our modern church services. One guy gives announcements. Maybe someone performs special music. Perhaps another prays over the offering. In some cases, another to read Scripture. Finally, the pastor ascends to the pulpit and delivers a sermon.

Don't misunderstand. If all of that is done to honor the Lord, I just described a faithful, God-honoring church service. But I do wonder if we are missing out on much of the vitality, connection, fellowship, and power that the New Testament churches experienced. Remember the first church that was birthed in Jerusalem? The believers there gathered to hear God's Word, share a meal, worship, and engage in prayers (Acts 2:42). Plural. Multiple people praying. Can you imagine how powerful that would have been?

I think one of the reasons modern believers don't feel a sense of connection and fellowship with their local churches is because we've taught them to be passive. Their job is to come, sing, put money in the plate, and maybe take some notes. Once the service is over, they get up and go about their day. No wonder people don't feel connected! They are not involved! I strongly believe we can only reclaim the sense of fellowship and ownership of ministry experienced by New Testament believers once we do church like New Testament believers.

The "Show up, shut up and pay up" model!

I might quibble with a point or two but you should read the entire post. The church service as we understand it is designed to keep people passive, whether intentionally or not. It is really easy to go to a mid-sized evangelical church with a couple hundred people who regularly attend, put on your Sunday best and your Sunday smile, attend and observe in passivity and anonymity and then go home having not been edified and not edifying anyone else. Repeat this pattern Sunday after Sunday for decades and multiply it across most of the church and you have the perfect recipe for an unhealthy, Biblically illiterate and completely passive Bride of Christ. When the brethren are engaged and involved, when the Holy Spirit is active and the Scriptures are honored and followed, you are far more likely to have a vibrant, healthy community. That is no surprise as that is exactly what we see modeled and commanded in Scripture in contrast to a ritualistic, passive gathering where only a few voices are heard.

A lot of pastors won't publicly ponder this stuff so I am glad to see Josh raising these issues but he better be careful. When you take the red pill you don't realize how far down the rabbit hole you might find yourself (how is that for mixing my metaphors?). Come to think of it, Josh does look a little like Keanu Reeves....

No comments: