I am seeing a dream come true right here in Nashville. It is so exciting.
For 40 years, I’ve dreamed that a church meeting could operate without the programming, control, and/or direction of a human leader. I’ve searched the country looking for such a church but couldn’t find one.
I’ve also devoured church history looking for one. I found two examples there. Paul of Tarsus wrote in the New Testament that when Christians meet together that each one should participate in the meeting as led by the Holy Spirit. I also read about the early Quakers who met in silence without a human leader and individuals spoke out as prompted by the Spirit.
I served as a pastor several years and tried to implement open participation in church, but never had much success. People seemed to think that it was my job to put on the church meeting. However, for some reason, I have never been able to give up my dream of a church meeting led by the Spirit.
Three years ago my wife and I were invited to start a “non-traditional” church in Nashville. We started from scratch, without any members, so we were free to set the format from the beginning. So we started the meetings with praise and worship led by a different person each week and then had a period of open sharing.
It started slowly as this was a new concept for people. However, as people have continued to attend they have opened up more and more. Now the meetings are amazing. People excitedly share victories, read Scriptures, confess sins, pray, express love and encouragement to each other.
People are visibly changing — growing in love and confidence; gaining victory over habits and sins. Last Sunday we saw this Scripture fulfilled before our eyes: “If an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner . . . and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!'” Paul of Tarsus (I Cor. 14:24-25)
So many people enthusiastically shared what God put on their heart. Finally a woman who was there for the first time stood up and shared in tears that she had been away from God for years but after hearing what God is doing in so many people’s lives, she was ready to get right with Him. So she openly and publicly surrendered her life to Jesus. It was amazing.
This dream has been 40 years in the making. Many good intentioned people said it would never work. There was much discouragement along the way and much temptation to give the dream up and settle for the status quo.
Come and see it for yourself on Sundays at 10:45, 225 Berry St., Nashville, TN 37207 — The Salvation Army Berry Street Worship Center.
Read more in my book: Beyond Church — An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible, available at Amazon.