Tonight, I was having coffee with my wife and sister-in-law. We got to talking about different things and as I have been at home pondering some of them, there is one thing that kind of stuck with me. If you have read anything else on this blog of any length, then you will know that I am not the biggest fan of the current church system or the current church as a business model that seems to be rampant, but there is something that we can learn from this model.
One of the central arguments against the current western church system is that it limits the sharing of what the Lord is doing in the lives of the congregation. The current model is set up in a manner in which one man is given all the power. One man shares his or her divine gifting while the congregation sits back and listens. The congregation or laity, are passive because that is the only way that this system functions. If you are not the pastor of the group, then you know that your place is generally to follow. If you have a revelation during the time, you are not allowed to interrupt and the pastor will not be seated. It has been accepted that this is the way that the system should function. The congregation walks into the front doors knowing that they are going to listen and learn from the pastor. They accept this as the way that system works.
The pastor, minister, preacher or priest comes in knowing that he must come in with a lesson to teach. He has been called to shepherd the flock and educate them. This person in leadership knows that He has been burdened or charged with sharing the meaning of Scripture and teaching the congregation. It is a system that works for many. If that works for you, then please stop reading. There is no reason for you to go any further on this as it will either frustrate you, bore you, or just not interest you.
I prefer a smaller setting where all brothers and sisters are free to share and bring whatever is on their heart to the group, but there is a problem that I sometimes feel or see even in these settings. Even when we all come ready and willing to be ACTIVE participants in the time around the Lord, something else happens. All those involved usually will have spent time with the Lord, waiting on the Spirit to lead them on what to bring to the meeting. The problem arises when everyone turns into a pastor. That is when every person brings something to the meeting and they think that what they brought is the grand revelation of the time. Every person turns into a pastor, minister and forgets that they are also called to be in the laity.
In these smaller more intimate the time is supposed to be Spirit lead, and that means that every participant serves a dual purpose. That means that every participant must prepare for the meeting as if they are a pastor, but listen to the Spirit and the correct prompting. If they are prompted to share what they brought, then they share, but the remainder of the time, they are in the laity and they must open their hearts, minds, and ears to the things that others bring. One must be open to NOT being the all-knowing feature. Part of the true FREEDOM of meeting this way is that ALL members of the body are equally important and equally gifted. While whatever we bring might be special to each of us individually, that might not be what the Lord has for that time. It might be just for us. It might be what we needed to learn through the days, or the week leading up to the meeting.
Unfortunately, I will often see brothers or sisters (myself included…can’t having any one thinking that I am not guilty of this myself) waiting for that moment when what they have can fit into the discussion. They are not listening to their brothers in sisters as stone shaping stone but rather the listen for that moment when they can jump in and take control. They are waiting for the moment when they can make what they have to share fit into the conversation. It turns into a battle for the non-present podium. When the time turns into a meeting of pastors, all set on teaching the flock and no one wants to truly be a sheep, then the LORD is not at the center of the time – MAN is.
SO what can we learn from the current church model? For me it is that we must prepare for a meeting as a pastor, but attend with the heart of the congregation and then wait and trust the Holy Spirit to truly prompt us when to share and prompt us when we are to be silent. We must all come into the time with a heart focused on the Lord and what He is going to teach or show in the meeting. We must come together not with our hearts set on sharing, but our hearts firmly set on what HE desires us to see. We must let go of the idea that it is OUR meeting, or OUR time, but rather it is HIS time. It is the time in which HE is wanting to make Himself KNOWN. It is when HE desires to use the ekklesia (body of believers) to minister to one another. BUT He is the one that must be in control. If everyone is waiting for their opportunity to speak then no one is listening for HIS prompting. Then we are all serving the WRONG master.
It is my prayer that in all gatherings, we would listen for the teachings, prophesy, encouragement as if we were a pastor, but come with a heart ready to listen like a congregation.