Sunday, April 10, 2005

From the Dusty Pages of a Commentary

I was preparing to share some thoughts tonight about "open" church meetings from 1 Cor. 14, when I decided to dust off an old Barclay commentary to see what he said about the chapter. It's been awhile since I have done that! And I was shocked by how much I was into what he said (this is a lengthy quote, but worth the time & effort):

"(i) Clearly the early Church had no professional ministry. True, the apostles stood out with special authority; but at this stage there was no professional local ministry. It was open to anyone who had a gift to use it. Has the Church been right or wrong in instituting a professional ministry? Clearly it is essential that, in our busy age when men are so preoccupied with material things, one should be set apart to live close to God and to bring to his fellows the truth and the guidance and the comfort which God give to him. But there is the obvious danger that when a man becomes a professional preacher he may sometimes be in a position of having to say something when he has really nothing to say. However that may be, it must remain true if a man has a message to give his fellow men no ecclesiastical rules and regulations should be able to stop him giving it. It is a mistake to think that only the professional ministry can ever bring God's truth to men.

(ii) There was obviously flexiblity about the order of service in the early Church. Everything was informal enought to allow any man who felt that he had a message to give to give it. It may well be that we set far too much store on dignity and order nowadays, and have become the slaves of orders of service. The really notable thing about an early Church service must have been that almost everyone came feeling that he had both the privilege and the obligation of contributing something to it. A man did not come with the sole intention of being a passive listener; he came not only to recieve but to give. Obviously this had its dangers, for it is clear that in Corinth there were those who were too fond of the sound of their own voices; but nonetheless the Church must have been in those days much more the real possession of the ordinary Christian. It may well be that the Church lost something when she delegated so much to the professional ministry and left so little to the ordinary Church member; and it may well be that the blame lies not with the ministry for annexing those rights but with the laity for abandoning them . . . "

2 Comments:

Blogger Andrew said...

“But there is the obvious danger that when a man becomes a professional preacher he may sometimes be in a position of having to say something when he has really nothing to say.
…it may well be that the blame lies not with the ministry for annexing those rights but with the laity for abandoning them…”

Mmmm tasty!!! That sums it up very well. It is sad that the structure of the organized church today makes it very difficult for a member to speak to the whole congregation about what Father has shown them. Mostly members are only invited to say a few words of encouragement pertaining to the subject of the sermon about to be dispensed.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Zac said...

Very interesting and true commentary. I have to give a sermon in a month. Yikes! I'm sure that I had something to say last month. Hopefully, God will give me something then. Keep bloggin'.

3:46 AM  

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