House Church Talk - I Cor. 14:26-40 versus the weekly sermon

jesusislord343 at jesusislord343 at
Thu May 27 22:28:37 EDT 2004

"...And the eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you'; nor
again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.'" (I Cor. 12:21)

Open and interactive church meetings as are depicted in the New Testament
in First Corinthians 14:26-40 are scarcely seen in our time.  Such
meetings are unpredictable and even potentially volatile, and also rely
heavily on the men of the assembly being adequately prepared both with
sufficient spiritual food for the consumption of the body, but also a
proper healthy heart attitude in which to encounter any brotherly
disagreements which may arise in the examination of the word of God.  So,
especially for those assemblies that are presently in quite a struggle
even for their very survival, these types of meetings seem to be far more
trouble than they are worth.  In our day of widespread doctrinal
confusion and the prevalence of contentions, the open meeting format is
seemingly a prescription for much difficulty--and yet it is presented in
the word of God as that which is commanded by our Lord as normative
assembly order (I Cor. 14:37).

A seemingly much "safer" alternative to the Spirit-led brotherly
exhortation meeting has thus been sought out.  Rather than the men of the
church speaking in turn in interaction during the assembly time, the
design has been created to have instead a few men form a rotation of
assigned speakers, each periodically delivering the sermon for the given
week.  This seemingly accomplishes the goal of various men being
involved, and has far less potential for either dullness or strife.  

A few additional perceived benefits exist with this design also.  The
speakers are able to be pre-selected for their doctrinal integrity, and
also a brief well-managed time for questions and answers can quietly
follow the sermon, with the expectation of this remaining rather brief
and not becoming too heavy.  And finally, this format is far more of what
is generally expected by outsiders as being "normal" for church meetings.

This type of meeting is particularly desirable for certain types of men. 
For those who may struggle more so with speaking on the spur of the
moment in the interactive format of an "open" meeting, they are able to
plan out thoroughly what they are going to say, and are given a good
length of time without interruption in which to say it.  

So, if we are to ask how it was that the primitive churches ever got away
from the practice of the interactive, Spirit-led meetings with Christ
conspicuously functioning as Head, it is entirely possible that it may
have been the idea of such a man as these just mentioned, a well-measured
teacher perhaps, who became impatient with being unable to adequately
communicate in the context of fervent brotherly interaction.  

We have now in the clerical ranks established a whole stream of men
suited to this new form of assembly--men who each desire to be the
eloquent speaker of prominence for their church, and who have an
expectation, even approaching demand, that they be listened to without
interruption in their own meetings.  And very interestingly, by contrast,
those who do not speak well uninterruptedly for long periods in such a
format are thought not to be gifted to teach, and thus not fit for
assembly oversight.  

So we observe that in the move away from the biblical design for
assembling have come false standards of giftedness.

Essentially, the problem may lie in failure to discern the truth which is
presented in First Corinthians 12:21 above.  Those who are fervent in
being able to speak powerfully and briskly in brotherly interaction must
not think that all of the brothers will be exactly like them.  Some
brothers are gifted very differently, and require an atmosphere of great
patience with them for their highly valuable contributions to the
brotherly dialogue, which may be quite lengthy and drawn out, to be

Thus for the body to function properly, both the teachers, who typically
give lengthy and thorough teachings, and the prophets, who often are
fervent to interject with what the Lord has revealed to them from His
word on the spot, must learn to bear with one another and hear each other
out during the meetings, recognizing that they are indeed hearing from
the Lord, albeit in very different manifestations of His gifts.  

It is essential that our solution to these challenges in assembling be
for both types of giftings to co-exist as complements within the same
meeting.  We must resist the strong temptation to have two separate types
of meetings, one dominated by teachers in giving their sermons, and the
other dominated by the prophets in brotherly dialogue.  As is depicted in
I Corinthians 14:26, the prophets and teachers are to use their very
different gifts right alongside one another--in the same meeting.

So, in conclusion, our resolution must be to not allow the body of Christ
to become divided--with the prophets retreating into houses to seek the
ability to assemble in Spirit-led interaction, while the teachers give
their orations elsewhere, to the larger audiences in religious buildings.
 Let the prophets give due deference to the teachers in the brotherly
dialogue, and let the teachers not seek to force the prophets into the
mold of presenting extended teachings as elevated from a pulpit.  Let
also the teachers in particular not succumb to the temptation of
forsaking the scriptural design for assembling in order to have
prominence among the brothers.  Let all gather to the Lord together, in
His name, in unity of the Spirit, and see Him work His incomparable
edification through brotherly instruction, through His body of
complementary members.  

Indeed the eye has great need of the hand, and the head has great need of
the feet, as our Lord has said.

House Church Talk is sponsored by the House Church Network.

House Church Talk has been renamed. These discussions, via the web, now occur at the Radically Christian Cafe.