Some people say that we don’t need to go to church. We need “to be the church.”
To “be the church” implies action rather than passive watching. But before we can get up the courage to “be the church” in our daily lives in the world, we need to learn to “be the church” when we meet for worship. However, we can’t learn to “be the church” by sitting and listening to someone giving a weekly talk. We can only learn to “be the church” by each of us individually, doing what the Holy Spirit tells us to do.
It is frightening to obey the Spirit in day-to-day life. However, in the loving environment of an open, participatory church meeting, we can learn to take baby steps in obedience to the Spirit. As the weeks grow by, we will find our courage, obedience, and spiritual boldness growing in the church meetings. Eventually we will become so comfortable being the church with one another, that we will begin to “be the church” with family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even strangers we meet along the way.
So what would it look like if instead of “doing church” we allowed the Holy Spirit to “do church” through everyone gathered in the meeting? What if we encouraged everybody present to listen to the Spirit and then to say and/or do whatever the Spirit tells them to? We would begin to experience 1 Corinthians 14:26 — the only verse in the New Testament that I’ve ever found that tells us what to do when the church meets. “When you come together . . .”