delving deeper



1. Isn't it true that the Bible's description of church gatherings seems to allow for a lot of latitude in how our worship is structured? My church's order of worship contains almost all the practices mentioned in I Corinthians 14. What, then, is so wrong with a standard order of worship?


Most gatherings in institutional churches do include singing and teaching; however, they're done in an atmosphere far different from the one prescribed in 1 Corinthians 14. This passage describes a gathering with open participation by every member to bring a teaching, a revelation, a song, an exhortation, etc. (verse 26); interjections by the members while others are speaking (verse 30); and spontaneous prophesying by everyone (verses 24, 31).

If your church gathering possesses all of these elements, that is wonderful. We just would not describe it as a "standard order of worship" since it is not the standard practice today.


(YOU  WILL  NOTICE  THE  AUTHORS  STAY  AWAY  FROM  PAUL'S  INSTRUCTION  THAT  WOMEN  KEEP  SILENT,  AND  IF  THEY  WILL  LEARN  ANYTHING  TO  ASK  THEIR  HUSBANDS  AT  HOME.  THE  AUTHORS  DO  NOT  BELIEVE  PAUL  AND  DO  NOT  PRACTICE  THIS  PART  OF  PAUL'S  INSPIRED  INSTRUCTIONS.  I  FULLY  EXPOUND  ALL  THIS  UNDER  "CHURCH  GOVERNMENT"   ON  THIS  WEBSITE  -  Keith Hunt)


2. In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul admonishes the believers to do things in an orderly way. How does m organic church keep their worship time from becoming a free-for-all—or dominated by one or two individuals? Doesn't an organic church's style lend itself to disorder?


This is an excellent question. The fact that Paul admonishes the believers to meet in an orderly fashion clearly demonstrates that an open meeting does not have to be a tumultuous free-for-all. To Paul's mind, there is a wonderful synergy between an open meeting and an orderly one. If God's people are properly equipped on how to function under Christ's headship, an open-participatory meeting can be a glorious event with harmony and order.

Let's ask ourselves: What happened when Paul faced the frenzied morass in Corinth? The apostle did not shut down the meetings and hand out a liturgy. Nor did he introduce human officiation. Instead, he supplied the church with a number of broad guidelines to facilitate order and edification in the gatherings (see 1 Corinthians 14).

What is more, Paul was confident the church would adhere to those guidelines. This sets forth an important principle. Every church in the first century had at its disposal an itinerant apostolic worker who helped it navigate through common problems. Sometimes the worker's help came in the form of letters. At other times, it came during personal visits from the worker himself. Such outside help can be highly beneficial in keeping an organic church centered on Christ and focused in its meetings.


(NOTICE  THEY  USE  WHAT  CAN  BE  FOUND  IN  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT  -  GROUPS  GIVEN  LETTERS  OR  PERSONAL  VISITS  BY  SUCH  MEN  AS  PAUL  OR  PETER.  THE  AUTHORS  USE  "ITINERANT  APOSTOLIC  WORKER"  BUT  THEY  DO  NOT  BELIEVE  IN  AN "ORDAINED"  ELDERSHIP  IN  EACH  CHURCH.  HENCE  THEIR  ANSWER  HAS  TO  BE  HOW  THEY  ANSWERED.  WHEN  THE  TRUTH  IS  KNOWN  ABOUT  CHURCHES  HAVING  ORDAINED  ELDERSHIP,  THEN  THE  ELDERS  WOULD  GOVERN  THE  ORDER  OF  THE  DIVINE  CHURCH  SERVICE.  ALL  EXPOUNDED  UNDER  "CHURCH  GOVERNMENT"  -  Keith Hunt)


3. You question the church's focus on bringing lost souls to Christ. Yet until people come to Christ, they cannot partake in God's great, eternal purpose, which Paul discusses in Ephesians I. Therefore, isn't it critical that churches make the gospel's proclamation a priority?


Yes, it is. In fact, we believe that embodying the gospel in life and proclaiming it in word is a natural outgrowth of the life of a healthy organic church. If God's people are learning to love their Lord and one another with greater intensity, they will naturally want to share Him with others in both word and deed.


4. You imply that Finney and other Revivalists began using such things as the altar call strictly because they were pragmatists who invented certain practices to win converts. But how can we say for sure that these men weren 't led by the Holy Spirit to employ new methods that would help people recognize their need for Christ?


Our point about Finney was simply that the Revivalists made salvation God's governing purpose. Salvation was turned into something that took on a life of its own, often isolated from a holistic Christian experience, and thus many innovations were created to facilitate a conversion experience but not a full Christian experience. God's eternal purpose was not in view at all. As far as modern pragmatism goes, Christians should decide for themselves whether a particular practice is of the Holy Spirit or if it is mere human ingenuity at work. We leave such judgments to the individual reader.


5. You seem very critical that Moody was so concerned about bringing lost souls to Christ. Yet as an evangelist, wasn't it natural that that was his focus?


We certainly commend Moody for bringing souls to Christ. However, we believe that by viewing redemption as God's ultimate purpose, he failed to communicate the scope of God's complete plan.

No evangelist or apostle in the New Testament brought souls to Christ simply to save them from hell. Such a thought was unknown to the early Christians. The early Christians won people to the Lord to bring them into God's community, the church.

In the first century, people were saved with the idea of adding them to the ekklesia. Conversion and community were not separate; they were inextricably intertwined. In the words of Gilbert Bilezikian: "Christ did not die just to save us from sins, but to bring us together into community. After coming to Christ, our next step is to be involved in community. A church that does not experience community is a parody, a sham."171


171 John McNeil," 'Denatured' Church Facing Extinction," ASSIST News Service, February 19, 2006.


In this regard, mainstream evangelicalism has made the profound error of divorcing soteriology (salvation) from ecclesiology (church practice). The message conveyed is that soteriology is a required course, while ecclesiology is an elective. So church practice does not really matter. But this thinking does not reflect God's curriculum. The church is not a footnote in the gospel. It stands at the center of God's beating heart.

In fact, when the church functions as she should, she is the greatest evangelism known to humankind. When God's people are living in authentic community, their lives together are a sign to the world of God's coming reign. 172


172 See also Stanley Grenz, Created for Community (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998).



6. You say that "neither Catholics nor Protestants were successful in allowing Jesus Christ to be the center and head of their gatherings." I must disagree. In my church, the songs we sing, the Scripture we read, the message that is proclaimed all center on Jesus. Furthermore, we are give* practical instruction on how to make Christ our Lord every day of the week.


The central issue we were addressing is not, "Is Jesus talked about and given honor in the service?" We agree that in many institutional churches, He is. The issue we were addressing is, "Is Jesus Christ the functional head of the gathering?" There is a significant difference between making Jesus the invisible guest of honor and allowing Him to be the practical leader of the gathering.

Let's suppose the authors of this book attend your church service. And let's suppose that the Lord Jesus Christ puts something on our hearts to share with the rest of His body. Would we have the freedom to do so spontaneously? Would everyone else have the freedom to do it? If not, then we would question whether your church service is under Christ's headship.

You see, a meeting that is under the headship of Christ means that He may speak through every member of the body in the gathering. This is the very argument of 1 Corinthians 12-14. Paul begins this section by saying that Jesus Christ is not speechless like the idols the Corinthians once worshipped. And through whom does Christ speak? He speaks through His body using the various gifts and ministries granted by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). In the next chapter, Paul says that believers' gifts and ministries are to be used in love, as love seeks to edify everyone else (rather than to take for itself). Paul then moves on to the specifics of the church meeting where "every one of you hath" something to bring and "ye may all prophesy one by one" (1 Corinthians 14).

In this connection, if you were to attend an organic church gathering that met

in New Testament fashion, you would have both the right and the privilege to share whatever the Lord laid on your heart in the manner in which the Spirit led you. Not only that, but you would be expected to. In other words, Jesus Christ would be the functional head of that gathering.


(ARE  YOU  READING  1  COR.  14?  DO  YOU  SEE  THE  SLIGHT  OF  HAND  THE  AUTHORS  ARE  DOING?  THEY  QUOTE  CERTAIN  VERSES [LIKE  MANY  OTHERS  KNOWING  MOST  CHRISTIANS  WILL  NOT  LOOK  UP  THE  CHAPTER  OR  READ  THE  CONTEXT  OF  THE  VERSES  GIVEN].  IF  YOU  ARE  PROVING  ALL  THING,  YOU  WILL  NOTICE  PAUL  NOT  ONLY  TALKS  ABOUT  ORDER,  BUT  ABOUT  HOW  MANY  AND  UNDER  CERTAIN  RESTRICTIONS......SEE  VERSES  26-33.  THEN  NOTICE  IN  CONTEXT  WOMEN  ARE  TO  KEEP  SILENCE  IN  A  DIVINE  SERVICE  .... VERSE  23  -  Keith Hunt)


7. You often use the phrase headship of Christ to refer to Christ's leadership and authority in the church. I read somewhere that head in the New Testament means "source" rather than "authority." What do you think?


It actually means both. We are using headship of Christ to refer to the idea that Jesus Christ is both the authority over the church as well as the source of the church. There is good scholarly support for this usage.173


173 F. F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984), 68-69,274-275; Francis Foulkes, Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 73-74.


8. Didn't the early church hold their services in the synagogues? I remember reading that the apostles went to the synagogues to preach. And didn't Paul and Peter preach to a passive audience?


The apostles, as well as gifted people like Stephen, visited the synagogues for evangelistic purposes. But these meetings were not church meetings. They were not for believers. Rather, they were opportunities for the apostles to preach the gospel to the Jews. (In that day, a visitor could visit a synagogue and preach to the audience.) Yes, Paul and Peter preached in certain settings, but again, these were not at church meetings. They preached at apostolic meetings designed to evangelize the lost or to equip and encourage an existing church. Apostolic and evangelistic meetings were temporary and sporadic, while church meetings were normative and ongoing.


9. Are you saying that just because the first-century church had open-participatory meetings, we should too—even though we live in the twenty-first century?


No. We are suggesting that open-participatory meetings are rooted in New Testament theology, namely the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and the every-member functioning of Christ's body. We are also suggesting that Christians have a spiritual instinct to share what God has shown them with others for their edification. And we are raising three key questions: (1) After exploring where the modern Protestant order of worship came from, is it really successful at transforming people and expressing Jesus Christ? (2) Is it possible that open-participatory church meetings are more in line with what God had in mind for His church than the Protestant order of worship? (3) Would it be worth our time to begin exploring new ways to gather and express Christ in our church life together?

..........


THE  FORM  OF  DIVINE  CHURCH  SERVICE  IS  GIVEN  BY  PAUL  UNDER  INSPIRATION  OF  THE  HOLY  SPIRIT.  WHERE  MANY  OF  THE  GIFTS  OF  THE  SPIRIT  ARE  WITHIN  A  LOCAL  CHURCH,  PAUL  GIVES  HOW  THEY  ARE  TO  BE  USED,  WHEN  THEY  ARE  TO  BE  USED,  AND  HOW  MANY  CAN  USE  THEM.  WITHIN  THIS  ENTIRE  SETTING,  PAUL  WAS  INSPIRED  TO  TEACH  WOMEN  ARE  TO  BE  SILENT  IN  TEACHING.  THERE  IS  MUCH  TO  ALL  THIS  SUBJECT,  WHICH  INCLUDES  THE  TEACHING  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT  ON  AN  "ORDAINED"  MINISTRY.  ALL  COVERED  IN  GREAT  DETAIL  UNDER  "CHURCH  GOVERNMENT"  ON  THIS  WEBSITE.


Keith Hunt