The current format for worship services seems to be backwards to me. I have often thought that the format followed by many small-group meetings in homes was more appropriate than the large church congregations we see today. I have participated in many different small groups, given various names, over the years. Typically, they have involved 5-10 families coming together to study God’s word. Sometimes there was singing involved, but normally it was just prayer, Bible study, and fellowship. At church, I have seen 50-3,000 people sitting in chairs facing the one preacher. Participation by the masses has been extremely limited, if not non-existent.
I have proposed that what the church should look like is this: five families start meeting together in an overseer’s living room. The meeting consists of singing, prayer, Bible study, and fellowship. As the group grows, both in numbers and in spiritual maturity, the group prepares to split when it reaches ten families. When it reaches this size, the overseer turns to the most mature of the other believers and tells him that it is time for him to take half of the families and go off and start his own fellowship in his own living room. Now there are two churches meeting in two homes, continuing to grow both in number and in spiritual maturity.
Today, I came across I Corinthians 14:26-40, which seems to support that ALL members of the local fellowship should participate in worship, “When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.” It goes on to say that there should not be one person who monopolizes the time; rather “two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.” There is not to be just one speaker. Two or three should speak at each meeting, and there are even controls built in to keep one speaker from going from what God has given him to say into his own words.