What is the outcome of this, brothers and sisters? When you meet together, each one has a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. All these things must be done to build up the church. (1 Cor. 14:26, CEB)
We all have fears. Even as Pentecostals, we all have fears when it comes to church services.
One of the great Pentecostal scholars of the early 20th Century, Donald Gee, said, “Any service where you know what is going to happen next is dead.”
There was a time when Pentecostals feared order. It was a badge of honor to be as unprepared as possible so the Spirit could “move” on you.
A lot of whacky things got blamed on “the anointing.”
Today, I fear we have too much order. It’s not about a lack of preparation. It’s a fear of losing control.
When we were planting a church in Kansas, we had a time at the end of an evening service where we opened it up for testimony. We had new people, because we were a new church. A man raised his hand and asked if he could give a testimony. I said he could, but then he got up and marched right to the pulpit. I was young and inexperienced, so I just let him. I got experienced in that moment.
He launched into one of the wildest testimonies I know I’ve ever heard. He had been to the sun and found it wasn’t all that hot. It was because “all things are possible in God.” On and on it went. Like that. It never got better.
There are things pastors just worry about in a service.
But too much control is also unhealthy. It’s not about “order” or being prepared. The more prepared we are as pastors, the more opportunity we could have for spontaneity of the Spirit and know what is really the Spirit.
The church service really could be a laboratory for the Spirit and spiritual gifts. It’s not a time for just anyone to grab a mic and give a “moonbeam” testimony, or start singing like they’re auditioning for American Idol. It IS a matter of saying that when we come together to worship, we should come together. We SHOULD come expecting the Spirit to use any one of us. Not ALL of us at exactly the same time, but live with the possibility that the Spirit could use us in any number of ways.
The key is at the end of the verse: BUILD UP the Body of Christ.
Too often it’s about how great WE are and isn’t God lucky to have us on the team.
What builds up THE BODY.
With the celebrity culture we’ve built in the nation and in the American church, this is a horrifying proposition. Yet, we need to lead with better instruction, be bold in making sure people understand what SHOULD happen, and bold to stop people when it’s NOT the Spirit.
Sounds like hard work. It is.
And too often we’re just too lazy to stretch into this dimension.
When you come to church, ask what the Spirit may want to do through you. Not just in front of the congregation, but as you greet others. As you pray for others. As you talk in the parking lot.
What does God have through you, not just for you, today?