Why has our gatherings become centered around a sermon? Why does the body of Christ, the royal priesthood, sit passively listening to the same person speak week after week?
There is nothing wrong with a good sermon. But are we missing out on something better?
The way I read the New Testament, most of the preaching was done outside the gathering - directed at non-believers. Yes, when the believers gathered they did teach each other, but:
- I don't think a 30 minute monologue was the main part of the gathering
- I don't think it was done primarily by one person
- I don't believe the listeners were passive, I believe they would have responded with discernment
- There are many ways to teach. Some of the best teaching is done in one on one conversations and/or modeling a life.
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.Hebrews 10:24-25 (New International Version)
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.1 Timothy 4:13 (New International Version)
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.Ephesians 5:18-21 (New International Version)
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (New International Version)
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.Romans 12:6-8 (New International Version)
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Are we doing church by the book on this one? And if not, should we?
Have we made the sermon the main part of our gathering? Why? Does it need to be? What are the pros & cons? Is the body missing out on something with this focus on the sermon?
I think these are valid questions to discuss.