(1 Corinthians 14:26-35)
Over the years I have attended a number of different church meetings as my wife and I travel around the country. It seems that every church has a different form of worship, some very good and others that could be better. Some I have attended were so loose that it didn’t appear there was any structure at all.
The most important thing that needs to be done in any church meeting is that it be conducted in an orderly manner. And this is the focus of what Paul is conveying to the Corinthian church.
In these few verses Paul lays down a clear plan for what needs to be done to conduct an orderly meeting of the church. There is perhaps only one point missing that should be added to this list and there are other things that could be included, but these verses give the basic structure that should be adhered to in an orderly meeting.
Basic Worship Meeting Structure
These verses provide the key activities that should take place in the general worship meeting.
26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. – (1 Corinthians 14:26-33)
These are the basic requirements for a worship meeting. Whenever the church comes together to worship they should have these elements in most instances,
- Hymns or songs of praise and worship
- Lessons or teachings
- Revelations or prophecies
- Tongues where their is someone with the gift of interpretation
And to ensure the meeting is conducted in an orderly manner, Paul instructs that there should be no more than two or three tongues, and only where there is someone with a gift of interpretation, and there should be only two or three prophecies. And with both the tongues and the prophecies, these gifts must not operate all at the same time but subsequent prophets or tongue speakers should wait until the previous speaker finishes.
The key point in all of this is made in the last words of the section above,
“God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (vs. 33)
Additional Meeting Elements
Now the above is the basic requirements of a general worship meeting. There are other things that need to be considered as part of the standard worship meeting too.
Some things that immediately come to mind are opening and closing prayers. There may also be a need to pray for those who are suffering and ill, anointing them with oil for healing as instructed by James.
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. – (James 5:14-15)
However the most important addition to the basic list that ought to be a regular part of the worship meetings is the breaking of bread. In it we remember the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice for us. In the breaking of bread and the taking of the cup we recall the giving of His body and the shedding of His blood so that we have the hope of salvation.
One of the most surprising things I have found in a number of the meetings I have attended in various places is that they do not practice the breaking of bread or communion as it is sometimes called. I find this both odd and disappointing for to do so was not just an instruction from Paul, but from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself at the last supper. Thus I personally feel it should be incorporated into regular worship meetings.
Special Purpose Meetings
There are other types of meetings that may have a specific focus where not all the basic elements of the worship meeting are necessarily required. For example, a prayer meeting, a bible study meeting and an elders meeting would all be called for specific purposes and you may not have all of the above elements in those meetings.
But the worship meeting held on a regular basis, typically weekly, should have all the above elements and it is recommended that the additional elements indicated above be added.
The key though for ANY meeting in the name of the Lord is that it be orderly and respectful, regardless of whether it is the regular worship meeting or a special focus meeting. There should be no off topic discussions, no levity, not more than one discussion happening at the same time and so on. Discussions between husbands and wives over marital or family matters should not be part of the meetings, and Paul hints at this in the last several verses of this section.
The meeting instead must be structured in a fashion that promotes order and run accordingly for the benefit of all the church and the glory of God the Father and Jesus Christ our Saviour. In our worship meetings we are honouring the Fatherand the Son,so let us do so in a fitting and orderly manner.
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