As a pastor of a participatory (organic) church that is based on open sharing rather than on a featured sermon, people sometimes express concern to me that people are not being taught the Bible in our meetings. This is a valid concern.
However, after attending the meetings for several months, a woman said to me: “I was concerned when I started coming here that I might not get enough of the Bible, but I am actually getting more Bible here than in a more traditional church.” How is that? Here are some reasons:
1) We schedule a different person each week to begin the meetings by reading from the Bible and telling what it means and then we have praise and worship.
2) After the worship time, people are allowed to share as they feel prompted by the Spirit. The sharing often involves reading, quoting, and/or brief teaching/exhortation from the Bible. Thus a lot of Scripture is preached and proclaimed during the meetings.
3) People also have the opportunity to get hands-on training in actually obeying the Bible during the meetings, as they do what these and other Scriptures command: “pray for one another,” “confess your sins to each other,” “bear one another’s burdens,” “encourage one another,” “comfort one another,” “weep with those who weep,” “submit to one another,” “humble yourself,” “let the redeemed of the Lord say so,” and overcome “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.”
4) The entire meeting format is based on the Bible passage: ” When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation . . .” (See 1 Corinthians 14:26.)
5) The Bible is the “rule book” behind all that is done. Everything that is shared in the meeting must be in line with the Bible. The pastors (much like officials in a sporting event) serve in the Bible-based position of “overseers” and keep a close watch on the meeting to assure that noting is said or done that goes against the Bible. If correction is ever needed, they loving interrupt and give correction/redirection based on the Bible.
6) The living Word (the resurrected Jesus Christ present in the person of the Holy Spirit) directs the meeting and makes the Bible (the written word) come alive before our eyes. We don’t just hear about the Bible — we experience what it is talking about. The meetings are like chapters from the Book of Acts.
7) The meetings create a hunger and curiosity for people to read the Bible for themselves. People go home and act like the people in Acts 17:11, who “searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Thus their Bible knowledge is greatly increase and like the lady I quoted above, they are even more impacted by the Scriptures than they would have in a more familiar church setting.
8) By participating and experience the presence of the living, resurrected Jesus in the meeting, people fall more in love with Him and the more they love Him the more they love the Bible! (The rate of people’s spiritual growth in this worship format always amazes me.)
9) We also have a Bible study on Sunday mornings before we begin our participatory worship meetings. We go through a book at a time. Currently we are in James.
–Someone can be an expert on the Bible and study it every day; yet not have a personal relationship with the living Christ.
–However, someone who maintains an intimate relationship with Christ craves the Bible more than they do food (see Job 22:22).
* The closer someone’s relationship with the living resurrected Jesus Christ (the Living Word) the more they long for, desire, read, think about, ponder, learn, quote, obey, celebrate, and devour the Bible (the written word).
However, don’t just take my word for it. Come and see for yourself every Sunday morning @ 10:45 — The Salvation Army Berry Street, 225 Berry St., Nashville, TN 37207.
Here’s how a first time visitor who drove in from Arkansas to be with us described it: A First Time Visitor Writes About Berry Street.