A 14th Century book about St. Francis of Assisi describes participatory church. According to the book The Little Flowers of St. Francis, Francis was meeting with a group of his followers and told one of them “to open his mouth and say about God whatever the Holy Spirit suggested to him.” The man “uttered marvelous words under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
Then Francis told “another to speak similarly about God according to the grace which the Holy Spirit gave him. And he obeyed and was speaking very profoundly about the Lord by the grace of God.”
Francis told “a third to say something without preparation in praise of our Lord Jesus Christ. And this third one, following the example of the others and humbly obeying, likewise began to speak so profoundly about the hidden mysteries of the Divinity that there was no doubt the Holy Spirit was speaking through him and the others.
The book goes on and says that the men were “one after another speaking sweetly about God and spreading the perfume of divine grace.” And participatory church is still powerful in the 21st Century. Experience it for yourself at The Salvation Army Berry Street in Nashville, TN, where regular people “say something without preparation in praise of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Check it out on Sunday mornings at 10:45, 225 Berry St., 37207.
Read more about participatory church in my book Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible–Ekklesia.