A Sunday morning church service is a controlled environment. Often everything that happens there is planned out ahead of time and inked onto a handy program which is given to people as they enter. People are expected to passively sit, silently listen, and dutifully obey, offering no input or unprogrammed response. They are told when to sit, when to stand, when to sing, when to read, when to put money into a plate, what to think and believe, and when to leave — all under the control of one man called the pastor.
These expectations are enforced by hundreds of years of tradition. Although the Bible clearly teaches that people have the freedom to interrupt a church meeting, that almost never happens. (Have you ever seen a traditional church service interrupted by someone in the congregation?)
Can church be more than a rigidly controlled program? Yes, it can be so much more. Church can be a living demonstration of the power and presence of the resurrected Jesus Christ.
If Christ is dead and gone, church meetings may need to be controlled by a human leader. However, if Christ is alive and present (as the Bible clearly teaches and as almost every church says they believe), then Christ, Himself, can personally direct church meetings without a human being in control. There is absolutely no need for one man to dominate the proceedings.
So, how can a church move beyond human control of its worship meetings? It is really quite simple. 1) Gather in Jesus’ name, under His direct leadership rather than a man’s control; 2) Allow everybody to be still and listen to the “still, small voice” of Jesus speaking in their heart; 3) Allow people to share (and/or do) whatever Jesus tells them to.
When these three steps are followed, amazing things begin to happen. Wisdom and eloquence come forth from some of the least likely people. Love begins to flow. A sense of awe fills the room. Humility, honesty, and confession come forth. Gifts of the Spirit begin to quietly manifest. It soon becomes obvious that an unseen presence is guiding the meeting — that the living Jesus is leading us on holy ground.
These three simple steps can be followed anywhere, not just in a church building. And you don’t need a crowd. Jesus said that He will be present when two or three gather in His name. It’s so simple, yet so powerful. Why not try it for yourself and see what the living Jesus will do in and through a group of people if He is only given a chance?
“The main idea of biblical church government is to allow Jesus Christ truly to function as the living head of His body.” –Steven J. Cole
Writing in SBC Life about the firings of Southern Baptist pastors, Chris Turner said: “Control issues — ‘who’s going to run the church‘ — topped the list of reasons for termination.”
“The greatness of the man’s power is the measure of his surrender.” –William Booth
“Through Him (Christ), humans can be transformed until the game of control gives way to a life of mutual submission—the dance of relationship rather than the dissonance of control.” –From the book Conquering the Game of Control by Craig Green.