The “Body Life”
I titled this “Body Life” to contrast it to traditional church or home meeting. Christians get fixated on meetings – where, when and how. They can see how home meeting can be intimate and participatory but can’t imagine how it would work in a larger meeting.
I would not have believed it if I hadn’t experienced it for a number of years – meetings with upwards of 200 or 300 people or more in a large hall that was totally unscripted because Holy Spirit was in control. There was no “order of worship”. Anyone could begin by a prayer, a song, a testimony. Very often Holy Spirit led us corporately in a single theme. Anyone was free to participate at any time. There was no chaos. There was order. The chairs were in a circle. There was no podium. There were elders but they were not visible or obvious. If something got off track, they would bring it back, but they were truly there to facilitate rather than dominate. The spirit and attitude everyone had was to follow leading of Holy Spirit, to sense what to do when – whether to pick a song, read from Bible, pray, praise, testify or teach. Most understood that they were there to glorify God and to share what Lord had done in our lives that week. The meetings were fresh and often glorious.
This is not to say we didn’t have some bad meetings, people sharing inappropriately, etc. but that’s what leadership is all about. When someone goes off track or just plain “off wall”, mature saints need to be sensitive to Lord and bring it back into flow of Spirit. This is not heavy handed or dictatorial. The meeting is still in hands of all saints who are free to share a hymn, a psalm, a testimony, pray, etc.
So what can pastor do who wants to turn his church around from dead one man show to a living body? The pastor may tell people, “okay, folks, I’m going to shut up for next month. I’m just here to encourage you.” Function follows form. Take away pulpit. Put chairs in a circle. Begin to announce a couple of weeks before hand reason for change and how it will work, emphasizing need for all to have fresh experiences and light from Lord to share. Encourage them to be sensitive to leading of Holy Spirit as to which song to pick, when and what to share. Keep prayers and testimonies “short, quick, real and fresh” (as we used to say). If someone drones on for a while without much real to say, it will kill meeting and interrupt Spirit’s flow.
Christians grow when they let life of Jesus they have experienced flow out to others. This can happen in large meetings or small. It may take a little time and prodding to get people used to idea, but it can be done.
Most of these meetings fall flat on their face. Why? A "body life" meeting is only as good as our walk with Lord. If we are living in past, living off of experiences we had last month or ten years ago, we are going to be in for a rude awakening. It may sound trite to say that we need to "have a fresh experience of Christ" daily, but it is true. Many people can tell old "war stories" for hours on end, how Lord did this or that for them years ago. But what counts is what Lord did in my life today, this week - not last year or 30 years ago. An interesting thing about a body life meeting is that there is no place to hide. You are exposed. If your experience is stale, your sharing will smell like a stale ash tray to you and others minute you open your mouth.
Why do we end up with big meetings and professional speakers? In traditional service, there is nothing to do, nothing to prepare for. It takes heat off. We can hide and don't have to deal with our shallowness and lack of reality.