Our church gatherings may look a little different than what you are used to. Here are some of the things which you may want to prepare for.
All of our activities are age-integrated
This means that you worship, learn and fellowship with people of all ages. We believe that while discipleship does take place in many different contexts, God has specifically designed the family as the primary means of learning about who He is and what He has done for mankind. We do not believe that families should divide once they walk in the church doors as is the practice of many Evangelical churches today. Instead, we find great joy in worshipping and learning together. If you are not accustomed to having your children with you during a worship service, you will quickly find that there is a learning curve. We encourage parents to take a misbehaving child to out of ear shot of the church body and then bring them back into the service after they have stopped making noise. Removing a child for misbehaving and then allowing them to play in another room may seem like a good solution, but it is really just a reward for bad behavior. We love children and love seeing them learning to sit still and being respectful of the worship of God and those around them.
Our gatherings are participatory
1 Corinthians 14 gives us a rare glimpse into how the New Testament church worshipped together. In verse 26, Paul says that when we come together, each one has a song, a teaching, etc. This means that the apostles taught the early Christians that their time together was to be participatory in nature. This is contrasted today with the typical service where one person is on a stage delivering a sermon, and everyone else is merely observing.
We tyically start our time of worship together with a pre-selected (or requested) song in order to help “tune our hearts” to worship. This is followed by a time of bringing our prayer requets before the body and before God. During this time we also share what God has been teaching us as we exhort one another with scriputre and songs. The guidelines for this time is that everything must be done for the edification and building up of the body (1 Crinthians 14:26) and in an orderly manner (1 Corinthians 14:40)
This may seem a bit odd at first if you are not used to participatory worship but this is how the New Testament church worshipped and we believe that there is great wisdom in following their pattern. This pattern of worship allows for each member of the body to serve one another and is a great source of joy in our body.
Teaching is not limited to the elders
We take Paul’s teaching at face value when he says, “when you come together, each one has a teaching”. This means that we do not “guard the pulpit” by only allowing ordained men to teach. Any brother who is in good standing (and an ocassional guest) is free to bring the word of God to the body. This may make some people nervous. We understand. The objection that we hear most often is that by allowing any man to teach the body, we create an opportunity for error to be taught. Paul appears to address this very concern in 1 Corinthians 14:29-30. Here, Paul appears to be saying that when a brother is teaching the word to the body, the body is not only learning, but they are also told to “weigh what is said”. We weigh the teaching against the unchanging standard of the Word. Paul goes on to say that if a revelation is made to another person sitting there, “let the first be silent”. We understand this to mean that the body itself has a responsibilty to correct any errors and to publically raise the concern. If this happens, then the one who was teaching is to remail silent and not argue.
In practice, this rarely happens because the brothers who bring the word to the body have carefully prepared their teaching. More often, you will have a request for clarification on what is being taught and perhaps a discussion on the interpretation. The body is free to ask questions, clarify, or add an insight to the teaching at any time.
We currently have a rotation of four brothers from the congregation who faithfully bring a teaching to the body each week.