“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.” – 1 Corinthians 14:26
The second essential of disciple and Kingdom life may be this:
2) Learn how to live out our lives as part of the people of God, how to live as the body of Christ
I’m not into ‘blueprints’ – the idea that you copy Acts and all will be well. We are significantly separated in culture and experience from the first century church and it is inevitably going to be different in many ways. Having said that, I do believe that there are inklings of early church life in the New Testament which highlight some things we are missing.
Here is a question: how many voices did you hear the last time you went to church? I guess in the average church you might here the person leading worship, someone leading prayers, someone reading the bible, a preacher…so, maybe 4 people? Sometimes all those people are the same person, sometimes there are one or two more voices, but I think on average 4 might be your best bet. The reality is that worship has, by and large, become a spectator sport. The New Testament writers couldn’t really have imagined church becoming like it is. And, as I say, that ok, but I do think that Paul may have asked some questions.
The verse from 1 Corinthians implies that worship was multi-voiced. Part of the problem of building large churches is that the bigger you get, the less chance God’s people have to contribute to the building up of the church. There is an expectation in this snap-shot that believers all had something to bring, something to share, something to contribute. Yes, there may still have been more in-depth teaching by an apostle, elder or itinerant worker, but church was a team support.
It isn’t all about worship though, or gathering. Living as the body of Christ involves all the ‘One Anothers’…all the things we are invited to do for our brothers and sisters. Here is a link contain all 59: http://www.smallgroupchurches.com/the-59-one-anothers-of-the-bible/ Again, how can you do that sat in rows facing the front? How can you do all that in an hour a week? You can’t, really. Early churches were communities in relationships that went deeper than ‘How d’you do?’ on a Sunday morning. As well as all that, we are to live a missional life with an outward focus.
People have become disempowered to live as disciples IN the church, not only in terms of mission OUT of the church. A willingness to look our brothers and sisters in the eye and say ‘You know, I’ve no idea how to live out this faith thing’ or ‘I’ve no idea what my contribution to building and edifying the church’ is a place to start. If we’re going to be a healthy church, we must once again realise that we are all ministers, we all have something to share, and we each have our part to play.
But, if you don’t ‘have it’, its not so easy to share it. And so, learn how to live in Christ, then learn how to participate in the gathering of his people. Another question would be ‘what capacity is there for me to actually BE involved in the life of my church?’ As we learn how to live in Christ and function as his body, we then begin to share that in the world where he has placed us. Tune in tomorrow for some more thoughts on that.