This is the another in our series “Thoughts on church and worship, discipleship and more”. Here is a description of one church’s model of a worship gathering. Its probably pretty different to yours but that’s fine – do comment below on other models that you find work in your communities.
The gathering of believers – a model for worship and ministry
If ever there is a context to develop the working reality of the priesthood of believers it is in the gathering together of the body of Christ. In first Corinthians chapter fourteen Paul encourages that when we come together we each bring something to share: a hymn, a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation, and that everything be done for the strengthening of the church.
We have chosen an open format as our preferred framework for our community gatherings so that our team can share in the ministry just like Paul encourages in this chapter. We are not intending for this open format to be like an open mic night at the local coffee house. Neither are we suggesting that we come together to wait on the Lord and then, after a lengthy period of silence, share what we have heard in the silence. Rather, we are encouraging our core team to come prepared with something to share and to participate in the ministry out of the overflow of their lives.
When our team participates in this way, when the prophets prophesy and the encouragers encourage, we will not have to worry about strangers coming in and disrupting the meetings. They will not have a chance to get in edgeways. Our elders lead the gatherings and they are always ready to adjust or divert the flow as needs be.
It goes without saying that it is impossible to squeeze all subject matter and all ministry elements into each gathering; but there are certain expressions that will occur more regularly than others. We typically see truth as a stimulus to worship. Therefore, our bias is to teach from the bible early on in our gatherings to allow inspired truth to release worship. Our mission statement can be broken down into three essential ingredients: discipleship, distinctive living and spreading God’s influence. We try to be continually addressing these emphases. However, this does not necessarily mean that we will always have formal teaching at every gathering. Even though we break bread regularly in our homes, we will share communion at these larger gatherings from time to time. Similarly, there will be occasions when we will baptize new converts at these gatherings even though we generally try to baptize new believers in public settings as quickly as possible after they have believed.
Our eagerness to see the priesthood of believers expressed among us will create a rub at times. We believe in the pursuit of excellence; but we do not want it to foster elitism. We want to create an open playing field where all feel free to express themselves, even outside of their areas of primary giftedness.