How often have you heard that term? Dozens of times? Hundreds? What is it? What does it mean? Does it exist? Is it personal? Congregational? Both? Should our worship services exhibit it? Can we tackle this in a one page article?!! Let’s give it a shot.
I heard the pastor of a large church once say that the Bible says nothing about how or what we should do in a worship service. Therefore we are on our own to figure it out or do what we want. I find that perspective a little scary in light of all the Biblical directives given to us regarding behavior, attitude and perspectives of our new life in Christ. That it did not address what we should do when assembling for services, gatherings, or meetings would be a gross omission. Luckily, or perhaps faithfully, we are not facing a void in this area. I Corinthians 14:26 says, “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.” (NIV)
Here we have a succinct format for what should be included in our services. They are: a hymn (song), word of instruction (teaching), a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. It is clear to see that two of these elements are active in most churches – music and teaching. Add announcements and an offering and you have a typical worship service in most evangelical and fundamental churches. In fact, so dominant are the music portions and preaching/teaching portions that the other three, revelation, tongue, and interpretation do not even exist.
Do we dare ask the question, “Why is this?” Do we have the guts to both ask and answer this question? Let’s try. Is it due to precedent? Is it because of convenience? How about being due to ignorance? Or safety? Perhaps no one wants to rock the boat. The safe, serene waters of our church’s habits and traditions may be too comfortable to disturb with scripture waves. Well, we know what Jesus did a few times with His disciples, boats, and waves!
If the Bible directive for a worship service cannot be exercised in the church, where should it be exercised? Is this passage not for the whole church, past, present, and future? Isn’t God big enough to handle it? In fact, if His word instructs it, and He initiates it, shouldn’t the church benefit from it? Who are we to eliminate any part of it, omit it, or ignore it? How badly do we want to adhere to Biblical directive? Not enough to disturb our comfort zone?
A little further on in I Cor 14, vs 29, it says, “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.” OK, you might be saying, “Who is this Paul guy anyway? Doesn’t he know that we have it down when it comes to what we do in our services? Stop mentioning all this revelation, tongues, interpretation, and prophet stuff. We have our worship time, message, offering, and we’re done. That’s that!”
Well, that is that in so many churches. And two-dimensional churches they are. Are you willing to accept the Biblical challenge of experiencing a broader spectrum of ministry in your worship gatherings? All of these elements are designed by God to edify, encourage, and educate the believers. Certainly no one would find fault with that. Let us not leave out any element that God intended to be used for the equipping of His saints.
Do you want to experience this in your lifetime? Or should it be left to the next generation? Are we called to fulfill that which is in our grasp, or is it more important to maintain the status quo? Are we big enough to get smaller? Can we decrease that He may increase?
Would this mean less music? Perhaps. Perhaps more music at times. Would this mean less preaching? Perhaps. Perhaps more preaching, teaching, and revelation at times. In other words, the strict scripted and pre-planned service would be amendable by the Spirit of God, provided the pastors and ministers understand how to hear and implement the leading and prompting of the Spirit.
Let us decide to decrease that He may increase in a palpable way in our services and in the lives of our congregation. Please email me with any questions, comments or discussion points.