1 Corinthians 14 has always intrigued me, especially as to what it might say about worship in the early church. As we saw on Sunday, it indicates that people would bring a song, a word, a teaching, even a tongue, and share it with the church. There is something “communal” about it that does seem to differ somewhat from our traditional worship services (not that our Sunday service isn’t communal – I’m just failing to find a better term to describe the practice implied in 1 Corinthians 14). Now, it is worth noting that this chapter only lists a few elements of the worship gathering. It doesn’t talk about reading and teaching of the Scriptures, or communion, or prayer, which were and are all necessary components, and make up the foundation of our worship gatherings. These are the more “structured” components of the gathering, and they form the backbone of our worship tradition.
But should we intentionally incorporate more communal participation, expression, and sharing of gifts as we gather? I think it’s a question worth considering. How would we do that? Would the Sunday morning service be the proper place for it, given the size and nature of that gathering? Maybe, if we had another gathering in the week, that was a more “communally” oriented gathering … maybe that would be more appropriate for something more closely resembling what seems to be described in 1 Corinthians 14. Maybe these things are better done in our small groups, or Bible studies, and even already are taking place. It is a question I am pondering, without having a definitive answer. “Structured” worship is necessary. But I do wonder if there would be room in our congregational life for more intentional sharing of gifts, and for spontaneity joined to our structure. What are the dangers? I think I can list many. What are the potential benefits? I think I can list a few of these as well. What do you think?