—1 Corinthians 14:26, 40 (NASB)
I fear I'm going to date myself so that you'll think Lincoln was President when I was growing up, but I have rarely if ever experienced a church service in the second half of my life that was structured like the church services of the first half of my life. Once upon a time I went to church expecting participation beyond that of just the pastor wherein some might sing, some might testify, some might share from the Word. At times I myself participated in such ways. One of the thoughts I've been having lately is that perhaps one of the problems is we no longer see and hear firsthand what God is doing through all the members of our church because everything is so tightly orchestrated through the chosen few doing all the work from the platform.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but I'm thinking that the average 20-something would read this chapter and think, "What a strange way to conduct church". Or perhaps they'd interpret Paul's instructions as for churches where no pastor exists to facilitate and coordinate. But what I'm concerned about is not that we "do" church in any particular, rigid format — that often becomes a set of traditions which don't actually minister either — but I'm talking about the difference of coming to church with the intention of being a participant more than an audience member. It seems like such things have largely been relegated to the arena of small group ministries so as not to interfere with Sunday services.
Over the years it seems like a lot of church services have been organized more along the lines of television production values. We want "professional" quality worship teams, multimedia presentations, and an overall smooth operation of the service as a whole. And yet I've noticed a kind of backlash arising occasionally of late wherein the accusation is it's no longer genuine. Perhaps when one imitates the world's values the most one can attain is equality with the world. And we all know that a genuine move of the Holy Spirit is not something achievable through those means.
I think there are many ways to achieve this without sounding the battle cry, "Let's go back to the way we used to do it". I'm just suggesting that for the body to be truly edified to the fullest, we need to incorporate more spokespeople for God's Word than just the pastor and the worship leader. We not only need to desire hearing from all the members of the body, but to personally hunger to put ourselves out there for the greater good.†††