A Facebook friend, William Pratt, wrote this about his visit to a participatory worship service at The Salvation Army Berry Street:
Last fall my wife and I had the privilege of visiting a church in Nashville, TN on a Sunday morning. The entire service consisted of one testimony after another. The pastor delivered a very short message then turned his microphone over to anyone who wished to testify or bring forth an insight from scripture. Instead of a single sermon delivered by the pastor, we heard a dozen sermons about living the Spirit life on the streets, at work, in homes, schools and neighborhoods.
That church is Berry Street Salvation Army and the extraordinary pastor who encourages congregational participation is Steve Simms. He is to be congratulated for taking a church that was losing membership and community influence and turning it into a beacon for the lost, lonely, disenfranchised, abused and hurting. Through the participatory church format immense strides have been made to bring relevance into the lives of many who could otherwise have been lost and wasted.
I remember approaching the pastor of a church we attended not long ago about inviting more participation in the worship services and his response amazed me. He believed the people were not ready for it. He was concerned about losing control and having all sorts of unbiblical messages coming forth. Yet, Pastor Simms at the Berry Street church leaves everything in the hands of the Holy Spirit and nothing happens that is not Spirit controlled.
Let’s encourage our pastors throughout Christendom to bring back Testimony Time. For those whose churches never left it, bravo to you. Then, of course, we must be ready to give testimony of all that God is doing in our lives. Testimony time is important and we must not allow it to become extinct.
(Visit us one Sunday morning at 10:45 — 225 Berry St., Nashville 37207.)