30/11 (About 30 minutes in a secular used bookstore = 11 books about participatory church)

In September 2014, my wife and I stopped by The Book Cellar  in Crossville, Tennessee on our way to Gatlinburg.  Were were there about 30 minutes and I left with a stack of books. To my surprise, 11 of the books were about 1 of the passions of my heart, participatory church.  (Could this have been a mere accident–a coincidence?  Or is God speaking through this?)  Here are some quotes from each of those 10 books:

book cellar

1) Total Church Life — How To Be A First Century Church In A 21st Century World by Darrell W. Robinson

“For a local church to function as the body of Christ, it must give itself to the equipping of members for the work of the ministry. All Christians are called to serve their Lord full-time. There are no part-time Christians. Every Christian is a minister.” –Darrell W. Robinson

“Power fills the church when people are equipped and engaged in ministry and witness. When this does not happen, the church becomes more of a social organization than a radiant, life-filled body of Christ. The biblical principle of equipping the people of God is the hope of the church.” –Darrell W. Robinson

“Churches with the Super-Hired-Holy-Man-Syndrome remain immature. Maturity comes as church members get involved in ministry.” –Darrell W. Robinson, in the book, “Total Church Life”

“It will inspire enthusiasm when Christians have the opportunity to share.  I found it meaningful to have a sharing time during worship services.”  –Darrell W. Robinson

2) The Church — God’s People On Mission by Laney L. Johnson

“In the earliest church there was no dividing line between laity and clergy. Early Christians assumed responsibilities wherever they lived and worked, ministering to those around them.” Laney L. Johnson

“The priesthood of all believers teaches that every individual believer is a priest of God. It means that every believer has the privilege and responsibility to read and interpret the Bible, by the power of the Holy Spirit. It proclaims that every Christian is a minister.” –Laney L. Johnson

3) Building on Living Stones — New Testament Patterns and Principles of Renewal by Michael Gleason

“The church of the New Testament was always an assembly of people. These people gathered as a family, a holy assembly, the very body of Christ. And the living Lord Jesus Christ was in their midst.” –Michael Gleason

4) Where Do We Go From Here? — A guidebook for the Cell Group Church by Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr. 

“A worldwide movement has been launched by the Holy Spirit, and He is paying no attention to denominational lines.  Instead, He is finding those who are not imprisoned by the past, who have a hot heart for reaching the lost, and who are ready to acknowledge every Christian is a minister.”  –Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr.

“The first thing a Program Base Design church looks for are specialists to direct the different programs of the church.  Even the smallest group will seek for a pastor-specialist who can come and preach, teach, counsel, raise the budget, administer its spending.”  –Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr.

“The Program Base Design church does not provide community where people build up one another.  There is literally no time or place in a Program Based Design church for people to become close to one another.  The programs insulate members from each other.  When they meet in the church building, each encounter is carefully programmed.”  –Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr.

5) Church Next — Quantum Changes in How We Do Ministry by Eddie Gibbs

“Church leaders are prone to disempower the people of God.  They disempower them in the church through the exercise of restrictive controls, that exclude the laity from ministry and from taking initiative.”  –Eddie Gibbs

“Worship leaders are not performers attracting the admiration of their onlookers, but prompters who model the act of worship.”  –Eddie Gibbs

“Great preaching and high-quality music may be able to draw a crowd, but they do not build an organism in which all have a functional role.  The gospel is about restoring and building relationships with a holy God and with one another in the body of Christ.”  –Eddie Gibbs

“The incarnational presence of the church in the world demands our dying to self–to our self-reliance, self-centered promotion and selfish concerns–in order for Christ to be glorified among His people.  Church throughout the Western world–including the United States–must be prepared to face the seismic changes shaking apart old structures and the assumptions on which they were built.”  –Eddie Gibbs

“Instead of continuing to expand such energy trying to make outworn patterns of institutional life serve us, it seems appropriate to devote more attention to the task of creating new forms of common life whose members: pray together, share their joys and struggles, listen to God’s voice, engage in common ministry.”  –E. Dixon Junkin (quoted by Eddie Gibbs)

6) What Happened To Ordinary Christians? by Jim Smoke

“Somewhere in the past, a band of tired Christians went out and hired some ‘professionals’ to do the work of the ministry.  And the parade marches on.  The Christians in the book of Acts were very involved activists in their walk with God and one another.  But sadly, many Christians today consider themselves only casual observers while the ministry is carried on by those who receive a paycheck for their labors.”  –Jim Smoke

“Unfortunately, in some churches the professionals in ministry like to keep their people in the role of spectators.  These church pros like to appear all-wise, all-skilled, and all-trained while subjugating the laity to subservient and menial roles in the life of the church.”  –Jim Smoke

“I wonder why many church leaders do not encourage their people to read, study, think, and grow.  Perhaps it is because they do not want their own position challenged by the supposed casual observers of the faith.”  –Jim Smoke

“We live in an era of spoon-fed Christians.  We pay the staff to teach us, and we nod our heads in approval and go forth after the benediction proclaiming the greatness of the message.  We do little. if anything, to prepare for the Sunday message and we do less after hearing it.”  –Jim Smoke

“It is time we quit perpetuating the model of the spoon-feed Christian and teach one another how to be responsible for our own spiritual growth.”  –Jim Smoke

“Ordinary Christians got engulfed by the big Christian program machine.  Many of them are breaking free, getting their priorities realigned, and beginning to walk in the way of the Spirit.”  –Jim Smoke

7) The Complete Wineskin–Restructuring The Church For The Outpouring Of The Holy Spirit by Harold R. Eberle

“So long as we are able to conceive of a church only as a congregation with a pastor at the head, we will be unable to see any other design.  The very idea that God’s anointings are available to many believers is revolutionary.” — Harold R. Eberle

“So long as we hold to the present structure of the church, limiting ourselves to the ministries of pastors and clinging to our traditional concepts of how the church leaders are to function, there can be no mighty awakening in our midst.  Our wineskins cannot hold the new wine.”  –Harold R. Eberle

“Most churches today follow a standardized program at nearly all their meetings.  Such uniformity is not seen in the New Testament.  When the Spirit leads, you do not know what is going to happen next.  The Holy Spirit is creative and He is free from limitations.”  –Harold R. Eberle

8) The Church Comes Home by Robert & Julia Banks

“There is a new quest for the church to be a place where people can belong and participate, a place where they can connect with others and help shape what happens.”  –Robert & Julia Banks

“The togetherness of the church and its services is not that of a theater audience, where one or several paid actors act on the stage while everybody else is looking on.  Each one takes part with his special gift.  It is a body consisting of members living in their mutual sharing of Christ and His gifts.”  –Edward Schweizer (quoted by Robert & Julia Banks)

“Paul’s approach to church recognized its participatory style.  All members had something to contribute to the church when it gathered, for all were given one or more gifts from the Spirit for the others’ benefit.  Church is typically a time when ‘everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.'”  –Robert & Julia Banks

“There are no spectators; all are participants.  No one is just a consumer; each one is also a producer.  What happens when we become church is not an outcome that was prearranged by one person or group.  It is the design of all or, rather, of the Holy Spirit through all.”  –Robert & Julia Banks

“The best arrangement for a congregation’s meeting is not a rectangle containing rows of seats, all looking forward to what is happening in a space at the front.  The bet arrangement is a circle, in which each participant can look at the other, address the other, and hear from the other.”  –Robert & Julia Banks

“The (Methodist) class meetings were in effect house churches.  Each person reported on his or her spiritual progress, or on particular needs or problems, and received the support and prayers of the others.  Advice or reproof was given as need required, quarrels were made up, misunderstandings removed.  After an hour or two spent in this labor of love, they concluded with prayer and thanksgivings.”  –Howard Snyder (quoted by Robert & Julia Banks)

“How could the primitive (early) Christians exhort one another daily?  How could they comfort and edify one another?  How could they provoke one another to love and good works?  How could they confess their faults to one another and pray for one another? How could they teach and admonish one another? How could they bear one another’s burdens if they never met together for the purpose of conversing on experimental religion and the state of each other’s souls?  Whatever persons may say to the contrary, those churches, the members of which do not observe or in which they have not the opportunity of observing the forgoing precepts which are enjoined in the New Testament scriptures, are not based on the mode of the apostolic churches.”  –From an early manual for Methodist Class Meeting leadership (quoted by Robert & Julia Banks)

“Much of church life today is program and performance driven.  It is easy for what is planned to take precedence over what actually needs to happen.  The program is more important than the people who make up the group.”  –Robert & Julia Banks

“Leadership in a home church is a corporate affair.  It is something that emerges as all seek the building up of the body of Christ gathered in that place.  This is countercultural thinking.  Those used to being dependent on a leader must undergo a major change of perspective in order ot realize that what happens in church is as dependent on them as on anyone else.  This can be very scary for some people.  It means personal risk.”  –Robert & Julia Banks

9) The Spirit, Soul And Body Of Worship-Worshiping God With All We Are by Joel Balin

“Developing worship that is in tune with His Spirit requires our commitment to let go of our desire to do what we’ve always done or how we’ve always done it and follow what God is telling us to do presently.  It is so easy to get locked into a form to the point where we are following our habits or routine rather than following the Holy Spirit.  –Joel Balin

“God’s glory and presence is not limited to or confined to humanity’s ideals or to the way He has come to us in the past.  We just cannot put Him in a box.  This is why it is so important for us to be sensitive to His Spirit in times of worship.”  –Joel Balin

“When we flow with God’s Spirit in worship–in alignment with what He is doing–our praise amplifies His purposes in our hearts and lives.  However, when we are out of sync with the Spirit, we actually can diminish the power of God’s presence in our worship.  If our hearts are not engaged and aligned with the Holy Spirit, our worship will become flat and meaningless.”  –Joel Balin

10) The Young Warriors–Arise, Shout, Pursue by Wesley Smith

“Many things in Christianity today are done out of habit, and are not based on the foundation of The Book.  When questions are asked or suggestions are made on how things are done in church, the stereotypical responses are: ‘We’ve always done it this way,’ ‘As long as I’m in charge here, this is the way we will do it.’ (Forget about whether the ‘things’ work or not.  And, hey, all along we were under the impression that the church belonged to God and that He was in charge.)  –Wesley Smith

“Someone, or some group, needs to come along and show the church that we can do better?”  –Wesley Smith

“Gunther and Martha Fussle started in Zurich, Switzerland in their home with open Bibles–and no agenda!  Today their home cannot contain the 2,000 people who gather, so they meet in a horse corral.  They said:  ‘We just decided that a few of us were going to be available to the Lord.  We met together with no program and no agenda to see what the Lord would do with us.'”

11) Quotes For The Journey Wisdom From The Way compiled by Gordon S. Jackson

“The Christian church is not exactly known for setting trends or embracing change.” –George Barna

“Sermons remain one of the last forms of public discourse where it is culturally forbidden to talk back.”  –Harvey Cox

“When a minister stands in front of people, he is interrupting what the people have come to church for.  He had better have a good reason for doing that.  Otherwise, he shouldn’t stand up and talk.”  –Garrison Keillor

“Vocation (calling) is not the exceptional prerogative of a few specially good or gifted people.  All men and women are called to serve God.”  –F.R. Barry

“No Christian should every think or say that he is not fit to be God’s instrument, for that in fact is what it means to be a Christian.”  –Alan Paton

“In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centering on the living Christ.”  –Richard Halverson

“Today when too many move to the rhythmic beat of the status quo, whoever would be a Christian must be a nonconformist.”  –Martin Luther King, Jr.


Posted in bookstore, cell groups, Crossville, Darrell W. Robinson, Eddie Gibbs, Garrison Keillor, Gatlnburg, George Barna, Harold R. Eberle, house church, Jim Smoke, Joel Balin, Jr., Laney L. Johnson, living stones, Martin Luther King, Michael Gleason, new wineskins, order of worship, organic church, participatory church, quotation, Quotations, quote, Richard Halverson, Robert & Julia Banks, simple church, Tennessee, worship, worship leader, worship styles | 1 Comment

Holy Ghost (the movie) — Live it out in church meetings!

Holy Ghost

“Can the Holy Spirit direct a movie? In this fast-paced documentary, Darren Wilson sets out to make a movie that is completely led by the Holy Spirit. No plan, no script, no safety net–just go wherever he feels the Spirit leading him to try and discover the adventure God has for him. . . the result is a film that not only challenges and excites, but also reveals a God who is far more alive and active than you ever imagined.”

Christianity was never intended to be a theory, teaching, or doctrine, but a demonstration of the living God and His supernatural power.  This movie does what church meetings are called to do — present and demonstrate the living, resurrected Jesus Christ in the midst of human beings.

So here’s another question:  Can the Holy Spirit direct a church service–no plan, no script, no safety net?  Yes, indeed!  If the Spirit can work like this in the making of a movie, He can also work like this in church meetings, if we will give up human control (our plans, our scripts, our safety nets) and allow everybody present in the meeting to say and/or do whatever the Spirit prompts them to.  

If you are in Nashville, Tennessee, you can experience scenes similar to those in this movie as ordinary people show and tell what God has done, at The Salvation Army Berry Street, 225 Berry St., 37207 on Sundays at 10:45 am. and/or Tuesdays at 6:00 pm.

Holy Ghost


Posted in christian movies, church, led by the Spirit, movie, movie review, organic church, participatory church, religious movies, simple church, Spirit directed, Spirit's flow, Spirit-led, Spirit-led church, Spirit-prompted, spiritual adventure, spiritual fire, spirituality, Wanderlust, world primer | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Let’s Get Ecclesiological And Set The World On Fire For God!

Let’s get ecclesiological — not just with talk but with how we walk out being the church!

Some people think that I think too much about church, but hey, I’m an ecclesiologist and we’re really into ecclesiology. (The word “ecclesiology” comes from two Greek words: “ekklesia” which means “gathering or assembly of Christ-followers” and “ology” which means “the study of.” Drop the “y” and add a little “ist” to it and you’ve got ecclesiologist!)

Ecclesiology is not simply doctrine or theory.  It is practical.  Practical ecclesiology seeks to find and implement the most powerful, effective, and anointed ways of doing church.  It doesn’t settle into “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:5), but rather opens up church meetings and allows individuals to hear and obey the direct promptings of the Holy Spirit.


Pragmatic ecclesiology release the church to Jesus’ control.  The living, resurrected Jesus Christ releases rivers of spiritual passion inside His followers (John 7:38). When Christ-followers gather in His Name (Matthew 18:20) and individually obey His spiritual promptings in the meeting, these rivers flow from person to person in a powerful presentation of His presence among them (1 Corinthians 14:25-26).

Church becomes a lab where ordinary people can step out and experiment with obeying spiritual promptings in a safe environment.  This lab experience develops their faith and gradually builds their confidence to step out and obey the Spirit in secular settings.

Experience an ecclesiology lab in Nashville, Tennessee at The Salvation Army Berry Street, 225 Berry St., 37207 on Sundays at 10:45 am. & Tuesdays at 6:00 pm.

Experiential ecclesiology wakes up dead churches and revitalise them to walk in the power and presence of God.

dead church walking

Posted in 1 Corinthians 14:26, church revitalization, church study, dead church walking, early church, ecclesiastical, ecclesiological, ecclesiologist, Greek, Greek language, Greek New Testament, Greek word, Harry Reeder, having a form of godliness, Matthew 18:20, Nashville church, New Testament, New Testament church, ology, organic church, participatory church, Salvation Army church, Salvation Army Corps, simple church | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

9 Questions About Church (Ecclesiology)

9 quick ecclesiastical questions . . .

1) Do we want God to actually show up in church meetings?

2) Are we willing for Him to interrupt, override, and change our program, agenda, and structure?

3) What if many people spoke in church instead of just one?

4) And what if those speakers all shared spontaneously from their heart?

5) And what if the things that they said fit together beautifully?

6) And what if this happened every Sunday morning?

7) Wouldn’t that be an indication that something was directing those meetings?

8) Wouldn’t you like to experience a meeting like that?

9) Then why don’t you come visit The Salvation Army Berry Street?
Sunday mornings at 10:45 — 225 Berry Street, Nashville 37207.

Posted in church community, church experiment, church meetings, church program, church programs, church questions, ecclesiastical, ecclesiology, out of the box, religion, religious questions, socratic method, Sunday, Sunday morning, thinking, worship | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hart Street Worship @ Trevecca University (Thursday Night Testimony Time)

Hart Street Annex at Trevecca Nazarene University has become the site of a contemporary, creative weekly campus worship meeting for students and others.  The meetings are based on open sharing and participation and are held every Thursday night at 7:00 (beginning September 18, 2014).

The Hart Street Worship gatherings feature a different praise and worship leader each week.  After praise & worship the meeting is open for people to share testimonies, prayers, Scriptures, prayer requests, encouragement, exhortations, etc., as they feel led by the Holy Spirit.

trevecca logo

The meetings are the result of a partnership between Trevecca and The Salvation Army and will be under the guidance of The Salvation Army Berry Street Worship Center.  The address is 70 Hart Street, Nashville 37210.  Experience Hart Street Worship any Thursday night at 7:00.

Check out our Facebook Event Page @ https://www.facebook.com/events/782190315155496/


Posted in Berry Street, Berry Street Worship Center, campus fellowship, Christian colleges, Christian spirituality, Christianity, college experiences, college students, college testimonies, contemporary Christian music, contemporary worship, fellowship, Millennials, music, Music City, Nashville events, organic church, praise and worship, Salvation Army, students, the heart of worship, Trevecca, Trevecca events, university, youth ministry | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life’s A Buzz

Life is a series of billions of moments buzzing past now, in single file, and vanishing. The future’s not here to stay. Today is tomorrow’s yesterday. There is no permanent housing. Our position is constant transition. We need God’s GPS!


Like Johnny Cash sang:  “Let’s get together and dream some dreams.  Let’s go. Time’s a wastin’.”

And Erykah Badu sings:  “Time’s a wastin’.  Don’t you take your time, young man.  Keep on drifting; Ain’t no tellin’ where you’ll land.”

Life whizzing by can be so confusing.  We all need help understanding it all.  So where is life’s best & greatest university?  It is “INSIDE U”. — where the Spirit of God teaches in human hearts. Take the time to listen and learn.  Your tuition was paid in full by Christ. Don’t skip (or sleep through) His classes and miss His amazing insights into living an abundant and joyous life!

“Serenity and inner beauty come when we wait upon God. ‘Waiting’ like that is not merely wasting time.”  –General Eva Burrows (former international leader of The Salvation Army)

“I’m sick of wasting time on things that don’t matter.”  –Alexandra Bracken (author of The Darkest Minds) 




Posted in Alexandra Bracken, best university, Eva Burrows, GPS, greatest university, life, quotation, Quotations, quote, Quotes, Salvation Army, time, waiting on God, wasting time | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Safe Church — Unlocking God’s Glory!

In the New Testament church was awesomely filled with the Presence of God.  How can the 21st Century church recover the lost combination for God’s glory in our meetings?

safe 2

While thinking about this, a scene suddenly came to my mind.  I saw a group of people sitting in front of a safe that looked like a large bank vault.  One person after another took turns getting up, going to the safe, and turning the lock to a different number.  After most of the people had put in their number, the safe opened and the glorious radiance of God’s Presence filled the room.


Traditionally, church has depended on one man (a preacher, a priest, a pastor, a parson) to unlock their understanding of and experience with God.  The results have been that we usually hear a good, safe talk about God and or theology (called a sermon), but we don’t unlock and release His actual, awesome glory into the room.   Why?  Because no one person, single-handedly has the combination to God’s glory.  As the body of Christ we need every member to bring their number and share it in the meeting.

Paul of Tarsus describes the ancient combination that unlocks God’s glory like this:  “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.”  (1 Corinthians 14:26)

safe 3

Come and unlock God’s glory with us at The Salvation Army Berry Street in Nashville, Tennessee, where rather than a 1-man message, ordinary men and women share the part of  God’s combination that He puts on their heart.  Sundays @ 10:45 am. & Tuesdays @ 6:00 pm., 225 Berry St., 37207.



Posted in 1 Corinthians 14:26, church community, church format, church meetings, church safe, early church, experiencing God, experiential worship, God, God's glory, how to recover a lost combination, lost combination, mysticism, New Testament, New Testament church, organic church, Paul of Tarsus, releasing God's glory, religion, safe in church, tradition, traditional church, worship, worship innovation | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments