The heart of your church is the Sunday service, where the typical communication pattern is about as useful as a telephone made out of Jell-O. No matter what you have on your heartthe greatest joy or deepest sorrowyou are not allowed to share it during the service. Ever. Fellowship is confined to the foyer afterward, please. (Unless you’ve figured a way to fellowship with the back of someone else’s head.) Try to talk, and the ushers will ush you out. Quickly.
This, my friend, is not Biblical. Saint Peter would have wept.
In fact, many of the early churches almost demanded you share something every week. They even expected you to sing for them (aaugh!) Even solos! But now you can’t say anything longer than, “Hallelujah!”if that. As a result, you’re often more of a spectator than a participant.
How did we ever get into such a fix? Well, around A.D. 300, the church made the worst blunder in her history. We voluntarily decided to give up the three key freedoms that powered the early church to success:
open worship (praising God)
open sharing (building up each other)
open ministry (serving others in the body and the world).
Throughout Christendom in the Fourth Century, we professionalized the local church and turned over our Sunday services to the pros, leaving them to do almost everything while we sat and watched.
Lay men found themselves stripped of initiative and power, like newly captured slaves.
Lay women were quietly relieved of what little responsibility and leadership they had. (By about 450, even the congregational singing faded to zip, as we turned over the music to professional choirs of men and boys.)
All the laity suddenly found Sunday worship to be more distant from their personal lives and daily concerns. They fell into Spectator Christianity, where loneliness doesn’t end at churchit starts there.