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 best 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 to 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.


About Steve Simms

I like to look and think outside the box. In college I encountered Jesus Christ and I have been passionate about trying to get to know Him better ever since. My wife and I co-lead a non-traditional expression of the body of Christ in Nashville based on open participation and Spirit-led sharing. We long to see the power and passion of the first Christ-followers come to life in our time. I have written a book about our experiences called, "Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible--Ekklesia" that is available in Kindle & paperback @ http://amzn.to/2nCr5dP
This entry was 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. Bookmark the permalink.

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

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