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. 1 Corinthians 14:26 (NIV)
Paul describes the ideal church meeting. It is interactive. Each believer contributes some inspired words using various gifts of the Holy Spirit.
- Why is this so completely different from our church services today? Even churches that call themselves Pentecostal are totally different. So who is wrong, Paul or ourselves?
But aren’t we biblically correct?
Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 1 Corinthians 14:29 (NIV)
In many Pentecostal meetings you will hear two or three prophetic messages.
But if there are 50 or 1000 people in a meeting, how can “everyone” have a word to contribute?
Part of the answer is that the churches in the New Testament met in private houses. The typical meeting was a house church meeting where everyone could in fact contribute. Obviously these meetings were much more informal and interactive than most of our meetings.
- But shouldn’t there be some order?
Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40 (NKJV)
Most modern churches are strictly controlled and nobody speaks out without the direct permission of a pastor or elder.
Paul said everything should be done in order.
- But whose order?
The first part of this text is: “Let everything be done…”
- The Holy Spirit wants everyone to contribute, for everyone to pray for the sick.
A conservative Pentecostal lady visited our rather free Spirit filled meeting. Afterwards she said to our pastor: “Do you mean you let just anyone and everyone pray for the sick?”
“Why not?” he said,”Doesn’t it say in the Bible, that believers should heal the sick?”
“But what if they make mistakes?”
“Of course they will make mistakes but we pray before the meeting that the Holy Spirit will be in control and He will do His work. Don’t you trust God?”
If the gifts of the Holy Spirit are only exercised by pastors and leaders, the rest of the believers will remain passive and never reach their potential in God.
Nearly 50 years ago Jesus started baptising Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians and Lutherans with His Holy Spirit.
- Ordinary believers began enthusiastically praying in tongues, prophesying and healing the sick. This was called the Charismatic Movement.
Then some ordained preachers became alarmed that immature and untrained believers were out of control. They started to teach that we all need a “covering.” That meant that everything and everybody must be directly controlled by ordained preachers.
The word COVERING is used in the Bible to talk about the COVERING of our sin by the blood of sacrifice animals. It is used to speak of how our sin is now COVERED by the blood of Jesus and the righteousness of Christ.
A husband is the COVERING of his wife, which means he protects her.
The word and the concept of COVERING is NEVER used to refer to the control of believers by pastors. It is a doctrine of men which nullifies the power of the word of God.
But don’t we need leaders? Of course we do. Paul himself was an ordained apostle. But ordained pastors are given by God to release people into spiritual gifting, not to control everything and everybody.
My pastor says: “It is more difficult to lead free people than to control people but he would not have it any other way.” Freedom is an essential characteristic of New Testament Christianity.
The fresh, God-inspired enthusiasm of the Charismatics was replaced by over organised Pentecostal churches where fewer and fewer believers actually said or did anything. The spiritual liberation of ordinary believers was replaced by the exaltation of “anointed ministries.”