1 Corinthians 14:26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.
The first thing that stands out to me in this verse is that it is talking about full, active participation in church meetings; these weren’t passive occasions. The contrast to what goes on in most churches today is actually quite strong. It’s obvious Paul isn’t talking about meetings of a hundred or more people, much less several thousand, as in mega-churches today. There were no dedicated church buildings, and people’s homes weren’t so large as to accommodate more than a couple of dozen people at the most. In that context, everyone was expected to contribute, and that led to growth on every level. Today we are so used to the large-meeting model that even home groups tend toward the performer/audience dichotomy. As Paul presents it here, everyone participates, but each contribution is different, thereby building up the whole. It has been said that in churches today 10% of the people do 90% of the work. I can’t be sure of the actual breakdown, but that doesn’t seem to be far from the truth. Every believer needs an opportunity to contribute and to know that they are contributing. That knowledge itself builds them up! I’m not talking about pride here, I’m talking about the awareness that we are all valuable parts of the Body of Christ, included and actively participating in His plan. In my observation, that awareness is for the most part sadly lacking.
So I’m lecturing the pastor here. (Me!) This church is still small enough that total participation is a practical possibility, but I haven’t implemented it sufficiently. I must not be so concerned with such details, as the audio/video recording, that I convey to the believers a sense that they are in the way. In the past we had “testimony time” that allowed for open participation, but we had people who spoke out of a sense of obligation, which really didn’t build up the Body, and we occasionally had some really off-the-wall things. I need God’s wisdom and guidance in reinstating more open participation in a way that will build up the whole. As pastor, I need to be willing to step in to guide or correct, but I must have love – for the individual and for the Body of Christ – as my motive, and not my pride or perfectionism.
Father, You’ve instructed me to speak on Tools on Sunday, to help the believers know how You have equipped them. Help me give them full and appropriate opportunities to use those tools, so that together we may be fully useful to You, drawing many into full discipleship, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!