I recently wrote about how a church that is ordered by the Life of Christ will be one where you can observe power revolving through the members as they lead in areas of competence, motivation and gifting given by the Holy Spirit. This is not a new concept. This is how the New Testament authors describe healthy Christian unity in life together.
Here I’m going to illustrate for you how this might play out and a common way this goes awry.
How the Holy Spirit works through people
There was a group of Christians that started meeting in a small group and they had decided together that they were going to work on better understanding the Bible. When they started studying together, the group decided that one particular person would take the responsibility to prepare the resources, outline materials, come up with questions and facilitate discussions.
This person was given this responsibility by the group because they had proven their competence in that area through years of hard work in researching, teaching and developing their facilitation skills. The group trusted them in this area.
They took the lead in this particular situation because this is how the Holy Spirit primarily built up the Body of Christ through them specifically.
When everyone gathered to learn, this person facilitated (not dominated) the discussion. They had developed their facilitation skills so that they could use different techniques that made sure everyone in the group had the right and the chance to participate.
Each time the group met, this person used their skills to help the group work together. With his guidance, they would harvest the knowledge the Lord had for it through their combined efforts and insights.
They helped guide the group into a clearer understanding of what was being taught through the resources used. They also knew how to make it easy for everyone to uncover together the implications of what they were learning for life.
Because of their competence and hard work in these areas, it was appropriate that they held a good deal of the power while doing this particular activity, for this is how the power of the Holy Spirit primarily worked through them.
Stay in your lane
But after a couple of months of this being the church’s primary activity together when they gathered, something happened in the life of the church. A couple in the group entered into a crisis.
When this happened, another member of the group felt prompted to suggest that there be group prayer for this couple. This made perfect sense. After all, the person that made the suggestion had gifts of faith and encouragement. This was a primary way the power of the Spirit worked through them.
The next week, the group decided it would not do the learning time it had been doing each week for a couple of months. All they were going to do was talk and pray about the crisis. They would offer encouragement, help and prayer that would mentally and emotionally support the couple in crisis.
Then something very important happened. It’s something critical to understanding how God designed a church to function.
The person that had facilitated the learning times of the past couple of months did something almost unheard of.
They didn’t say much of anything the whole meeting. They recognized that this was not their time to take the lead. This was not their lane.
They did not start the meeting. They did not pray during open prayer during the meeting. They did not end the meeting. They just listened and agreed.
They faded into the background.
And others emerged into the foreground. Others in the group with gifts like encouragement, mercy, compassion and hospitality took the lead. They facilitating the entire meeting.
This may seem very simple, but it’s very profound. It’s displaying practically what we say we believe theologically – that there are many co-equal parts of the Body of Christ.
How it’s typically done is hogwash
In most churches or small groups, the SAME PERSON that facilitated the learning would also facilitate the praying. They might not DO all the praying. But they get things started and ended, decide how the prayer time is going to work, and many times even decide who to ask to pray.
Basically, no matter what is going on in the life and activities of the church, the same people are taking the lead. If they’re not taking the lead, they’re deciding who does.
And the people with the gifts that should be holding the power in these situations? They’ve been taught and have accepted that this is how it’s done.
I’m here to tell you that’s hogwash.
We can and need to do better.
Power revolves through bodies
In a healthy church, power is not static like that. It revolves around the group as the situation dictates.
This helps better understand why Paul called a church a body. Revolving power through different parts at different times depending on the task at hand is exactly what human bodies do.
Now I’m not saying that the person that faded into the background in the example above shouldn’t have said or done anything. That’s missing the point. They absolutely were involved in appropriate ways from the start to the end of the gathering. They were listening to the Spirit’s leading.
In this particular situation, what was most helpful for the task at hand was for the power to be exercised by those God had given it to in that gathering.
Every believer is empowered by the Holy Spirit if He lives inside of them. We show that to be true when we allow him to work through everyone.