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A Vision of the 1st Corinthians 14 Church
First Corinthians chapter 14 has been a burden on my heart for some time. It's worth reading chapters 12-14 in one sitting, so that we have more context for chapter 14. When people ask: What is the church meeting supposed to look like? We see the answer very plainly beginning in 1 Corinthians 14:26
26What 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. 27If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.
29Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
When we come together, EVERYONE has something to bring to the body: hym, teaching, revelation, tongue, interpretation, etc. ALL OF THESE must be done for the strengthening of the church.
Taking the Word and Making it REAL
So take a moment and imagine how this looks. Ready? We'll start off small. Imagine yourself driving up to the building on Sunday. Everyone is wearing their day to day clothes. Nothing special. The chairs of the auditorium are arranged in a giant circle, maybe six or seven rows deep. There is no stage. There is no "front" of the room. There is only the circle. In the middle of the circle is a microphone. Maybe two. One pastor sits in a chair beside each.
You greet your friends and maybe a few strangers warmly, then find a seat for you and your family. A pastor opens up the meeting with a prayer, thanking God for bringing everyone back together, providing for our needs, and guiding us by His Spirit. He invites the Holy Spirit to speak through us all. Then he sits down. And waits.
A woman everyone recognizes walks up to the microphone. She shares a testimony of how her sister's son was healed of leukemia. And she has a song of thanksgiving to sing. As she sings, the rest of us pick up on the pattern and hum or sing along. We connect with her joy and thank God for being so marvelous.
As the woman winds down, a young man walks to the microphone and says the Holy Spirit just showed him that someone in the room is suffering from diabetes and has needed the faith to believe God for healing, and that God says now is the time. A man in his late 40s stands up hesitantly. He's been wanting to ask for prayer, but he really just thinks he'll have to live with the insulin shots and the recommended diet. People gather around and pray over him. One or two people prophesy things they hear over him.
Facilitating the Movements of the Holy Spirit
The pastor has been watching, listening, and asking the Holy Spirit if there's a theme He's wanting to camp on for a while. Maybe it's healing. Maybe it's exposing and dealing with doubt based on lies believed. Maybe not. He walks to the microphone and says, "It seems like the Holy Spirit wants to increase our faith for miracles today. Let's wait on the Lord and see what He says in regard to that."
Everyone joins hands and prays together, both for themselves and for the person beside them. They ask for revelation and faith.
An older lady walks to the center of the circle with a prophecy of healings God has promised to those who earnestly pursue them; who will step out in faith and make themselves available to pray for the sick and injured.
Another woman stands and sings a song of the Lord from God's perspective to His children. The song is about how He weeps for their pain and their sorrow, and longs to pick each one up and comfort them. A few people begin to weep under the anointing. Hearts begin to open to the revelation of the loving Father.
Spontaneous responses erupt from the people, thanking God for loving them, inviting Father God in as a Daddy, burdened and sorrowful for the unbelief that's remained for so long in their hearts.
The pastor returns to the mic with a word of instruction. He says that while it's wonderful to experience godly sorrow and repentance, he sense the Holy Spirit wanting to teach and reform the way people perceive and understand God's desires toward His people. As he speaks for a few minutes, spiritual eyes are opened and hearts are healed as people make conscious choices to lay aside their erroneous beliefs and agree with truth.
One after another, people come to the mic to sing spontaneous songs overflowing with gratitude and praise to God for showing Himself faithful and loving and kind.
On and on it goes. One person prophecies. They take time to discuss the prophecy and judge it accurately. One sings. Another teaches. One person speaks in another language. Another person interprets.
Transitioning to the Meal
The pastors have a sense of closure and people begin to head toward the fellowship hall, where everyone has brought a dish to share in the weekly meal. As people drift from one room to the other, testimonies, greetings, and laughter can be heard up and down the halls. People are sharing their lives. Catching up. A few stay behind to pray over those who still haven't received a breakthrough. The rest gather around to bless the meal.
Visitors and guests are given preferential treatment. They go first and choose whatever they want to eat. Members intentionally sit with them and begin to chat. They find out more about them as people, and ask if they have any questions about the meeting. Phone numbers, email addresses, or business cards are exchanged. And at some point during the meal, someone stands to lead the group in remembering the body and blood of Christ with the bread and the wine.
It is a festive occasion, with much laughter, playful teasing, stories, and bragging on children and grandchildren.
This is but one meeting. And yet, when everyone leaves, they leave satisfied and grateful. They leave touched by their neighbors and friends. They've used their giftings, received ministry, shared a meal with wonderful people, and experienced the very rewarding experience of the fully functioning Body of Christ.