Is most of the church asleep in the pews? Most of us manage to physically stay awake, but we are far from being fully engaged and fully participating in most of the Sunday morning event. Should we then wonder why many seem to be spiritually asleep? Is there a connection with how we structure Sunday mornings and the health of the body? Are there some members of the body who are getting more than their share of spiritual exercise, while other parts of the body are barely alive from inactivity?
First I want to define what I mean by fully participating: Where each member of the body is using their spiritual gifts, allowing God to work through them to others in the body. Actively doing what they are called to do for 'one another'.
So although I appreciate those who serve by setting up chairs, ushering, making coffee, cleaning, tech support, etc - I'm not counting this as fully participating.
If God has something to say at a typical Sunday morning church gathering, how many people can he use to speak through?
- the pastor/guest speaker
- one or two other members selected to speak briefly
- songwriters (usually not someone at the gathering, but selected by someone there)
- Sunday school teachers (important role, yet limited to ministering to children)
- Instruct one another
- Love one another
- Honor one another
- Agree with one another (we don't even know what most people are thinking)
- Serve one another (we may serve the Sunday morning event, but is that all this means?)
- Bear with one another
- Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
- Submit to one another
- Teach one another
- Admonish one another
- Encourage one another
- Pray for one another
Why do we 'do church' this way?
The early church did not sit in pews (or rows of chairs) passively listening to the same person give a 20 - 50 minute monologue week after week. Yes Jesus and the early church leaders spoke and preached. However the preaching was often done to those outside the church. There would have been teaching done inside homes as well... and Paul did speak so long that someone was bored to death literally... But I believe when Jesus or the early church leaders spoke it was often more of a dialog with the audience. The audience would often throw in comments and questions. The system with pews and a pulpit that encourages a passive audience was introduced into Christianity much later.
The early church also did not have a choir or worship band 'lead' them in singing. I don't personally really understand what this would look like, but I believe they simply allowed the Holy Spirit to lead them in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
They likely didn't have an 'order of service' that shaped what the morning was going to look like in advance. Yes, someone would have planned what they would eat if there was a meal with the gathering. But I doubt they planned in advance who would speak, pray, greet, sing, etc... and I doubt they put time limits on them.
If God has something to do or say through someone to the rest of His body I think the Sunday morning gathering should be a place where this is allowed and encouraged to take place. Is this an unrealistic pie in the sky dream?