Interrupting a church meeting has been considered taboo for just about as long as church has existed. I only remember two times being in a church service that was interrupted, prior to being part of an organic church.
When I was a kid in Jonesboro, Arkansas, the service at the Presbyterian Church I attended was interrupted by a light earthquake one Sunday. Some people responded in panic and several left and didn’t even come back that Sunday morning.
Once when I was an assistant pastor in Paducah, Kentucky, a man collapsed in the middle of the church service. Everything came to a halt as someone gave him CPR. We all waited silently for the ambulance to arrive and prayed. When the ambulance got there, he had already gone to be with the Lord.
I love reading church history, especially the history of spiritual revival movements. Did you know that George Fox and the early Quakers used to attend church services and interrupt the preacher to share the spiritual insight they had received? Bold, weren’t they?
However, the New Testament actually teaches that there are times to interrupt a speaker in church. I Corinthians 14:29-30 tells us: “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop.”
In other words, when someone is speaking and someone else in the congregation gets a fresh word from God, there should be a polite change of speakers (kind of like tag team wrestling). I have actually seen this happen several times in our open, participatory church in Nashville, Tennessee. Someone is sharing and someone else eagerly and enthusiastically raises a hand. The first speaker pauses and the excited person begins to share.
These transitions are not rude or disorderly, but kind and powerful. Usually what the second speaker adds is deeply moving.
Perhaps the taboo against interrupting church is quenching the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the New Testament words about allowing for the interrupting of someone speaking in church, should not be ignored. What do you think?
Here are some quotes I found about interrupting sermons:
”Why aren’t sermons interrupted? Perhaps the real reason is that we preachers seldom say anything that anyone in the house (1) might have a question about; (2) might disagree with us about, even on the surface; or (3) thinks is worth questioning.” –Earl Davis
“A sermon should be an invitation to a conversation. In fact, the Latin term ‘sermo’ originally meant ‘conversation.’ Develop a culture where people can interrupt the sermon and interject with comments and insights.” –unknown
“I have heard a sermon interrrupted once in about 35 years of being a follower of Jesus. How many times have you heard a sermon interrupted? How many times was Jesus interrupted? Many more times than the average preacher. Each time He took the oportunity of the interruption to dialogue and communicate with the person where they were. He used the interruptions as creative methods of communication. I have seen creativity being squashed and crushed by a lack of interruptions. So for me, ‘Please start interrupting!'” –Richard FairheadSee More
”God, interrupt us. Interrupt our sermons. Intrude upon our churches. Invade our world. Please, we pray, interrupt us. Amen.” –Tony Robinson
Check out my new book, Beyond Church — An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible — Ekklesia; available at Amazon.