Friday, February 13, 2009

Speak Up

I have nothing against preaching, I make my living doing so, but I think it is completely against the scripture to have church meetings so slavishly revolve around preaching as they have since the Reformation. It is not unusual for clergy to compose the prayers to be petitioned and to select readings to be read and the music to be performed based upon what they are preaching. Even advertising and promotional materials branding preaching are developed today by those who want to make it big. If things go right, one's preaching material becomes the basis of lucrative book deals and busy schedules of conference engagements. Everything revolves around preaching and preachers are stars of the show.

Don't get me wrong, preaching remains, and always will remain important as a means of communicating the gospel, but is it meant to be the bulk of our congregational meetings? Preaching has become the coach of our services, everything else, and everyone else other than the preacher, is just the fringe on top. Does the Holy Spirit inspire none other than the preacher? My reading of the church meeting manual in the Bible (1 Corinthians 14) says no! It seems to me, input from sources other than the preacher are just as important as anything the preacher might have to say. I would wager that most of our preachers are reasonably good speakers, and our approach to the meeting of the congregation is certainly ordered, but the question that remains is by whom and for whom? We most definitely are not following the pattern communicated in the Spirit breathed scripture!

When I read 1 Corinthians 14, the most important word I see is everyone. Too often what I have seen in church, however, is no one (except the preacher, that is). We need to revisit what we do when the church is together. We're too fascinated, or entertained, or too fearful, or lazy to let anyone other than the star, the emcee, the preacher express his or her anointing. That is not the will of God, and it suppresses what he wants to bring out in the body. But nothing will or can change until the body, not only in correction but also in participation, learns to speak up.