Occasionally a preacher may say that his task is to preach himself out of a job but this is nonsense. He doesn’t believe a word of it. Even if he preaches to his audience for thirty years he will still need to find a stand in should he be away for a week. After thirty years of preaching a front led church cannot handle 90 minutes without a minister.
The front led service is safe but it leaves the body of Christ unable to function. One thing that always surprises me when I am a guest at another church is how easily I can hear myself sing. I grew up in a church without a music ministry. The congregation needed to sing and they did. More than two hundred of us in a room sang our hearts out. It wasn’t always in tune but it was free and alive. Everyone sang their hearts out.
By contrast I have stood in huge Christian conferences with thousands of believers present and have been able to hear myself sing clearly. Why? Because 10,000 lively charismatic Christians were used to a music ministry who were responsible for the singing! The congregation had no responsibility for the music and as a result they did not know how to sing. Try it for yourself. Sing loudly and in most Christian services you will be able to hear yourself. The front led church service has reduced believers to silence or murmuring.
The front led church service is a dead way to meet that denies the reality of the Christian life. It is based on the assumption that the fall of man rules the church. That is a lie. Jesus Christ overcame the fall and the reality of that can and should be seen in our churches.
There was an Exception
When the now mature leaders of the charismatic movement laughed at their youthful naiveté one man did not laugh. Like the others he read I Corinthians 14 v 26 and was inspired. Unlike the others he kept going. That man built a church of more than 500 believers which met without a man at the front for more than 20 years. I know because I grew up there and I experienced that freedom.
It can be done!
How did this one man manage open meetings when so many others failed? The believers who followed him were no different to the believers in any other church? Perhaps it helped that he was prepared to fail. He had to put up with some awful meetings without stepping in and taking over. If you want open meetings patience is not an optional extra. It is essential. It also takes a powerful vision of the church. Without a vision of the church the difficulties are too many and too frequent. Without a vision of the church, perseverance is impossible to maintain. Few men have much of a vision of the church. If they did we would not meet the way we do.
It also takes help. I know my church would probably have failed just like so many others if we had not been able to lean on the wisdom and experience of an older church. Men and women who had seen and done this before us gave guidance and helped us through the difficult early days. The Lord put them in our path and we owed them a huge debt of gratitude. The life we experienced was massively enriched by them.
And we did experience life. The glory of those open meetings was above and beyond anything that any front led, minister controlled organisation will ever know. Seeing and living in a functioning church is an experience that every believer should have.
Elements of a Modern Service
For a typical modern church to exist you need four things. First you need a building. Second you need a minister. Third you need a music group and fourth you need an audience. The building, the minister and the music group are essential. Remove the building or the music group and the church will go straight into crisis. Remove the minister and the church will cease to exist.