Saturday, July 30, 2005

Longings for Simple Worship and Fellowship

Some of the sweetest times in the Body of Christ that my wife and I ever had were back in the early 80's with a bunch of Plymouth Brethren rejects who gathered in an elementary school basement (about 25 to 35 of us, including kids).

We arranged some hard-as-a-rock steel chairs in a series of semi-circles with a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine in the center. Our goal was to be led by the Spirit. Let me say that again: our goal was to be led by the Spirit. Nothing "spooky", but we reminded each other of our goal regularly.

We would sing a song "randomly" called out by someone in the group, then maybe another, then someone would pray "as led", then maybe another song, then some exhortation or a request for prayer, then we'd sing again, etc., etc. The kids were included, so we sang "If You're Happy and You Know It", complete with hand clapping and stomping, along with "Majesty", often with tears.

When it "seemed right", one of the men would take the bread and wine (a common cup with a wiping cloth) and pass it around, with a brief word regarding the remembrance of the One who gave His body and shed His blood.

Then we took a 15-20 min. break, with chatting . . . sometimes d-e-e-p theology, sometimes small talk . . . coffee and maybe cake or donuts . . . and hugs.

Then we re-assembled (minus the kids, who were babysat or taught in another room), and one of the men would teach from a scripture passage. Pretty much always expository, but always with open comments from whomever.

Total time: 2-3 hours.

What's amazing, as I look back, is that there was quite a broad spectrum of theological beliefs, broader than I would be inclined to "tolerate" now, rightly or wrongly. Yet, we really were one in Christ, and full of love for one another and for Jesus.

We've never recaptured that, though we've since been in many churches around the country.

But we've never forgotten it, either.

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Anonymous said...


in recent weeks i have determined that God is calling me to fulltime ministry. some of the longings i have in my heart are:

1) to break away from anything that resembles seeker-friendliness and get back to church being about true worship in spirit and truth. if God decides to bless the church with huge numerical growth, then that's up to Him. but it's not the end goal.

2) to preach biblically and in an expository manner. much of what i hear these days is limp and insipid preaching. my heart burns to preach "with authority", to exposit God's truth and bring it to bear on blinded minds and lost hearts.

your post kinda struck a chord with me. i'm not saying that's exactly the kind of service i'd like to pursue but the simplicity and purity of the gathering certainly is appealing and inspiring.

here's to longings for simple worship and fellowship :)

Terry Rayburn said...


I appreciate your comments very much.

My prayer is this:

Lord, lead Daniel in the path you desire for him. Work in him, as you've promised to do, both to will and to do for Your good pleasure.

Let love, the fruit of your Spirit, be the trait which characterizes him more than any other.

If you prepare him for the ministry, please do so by leading him by your Holy Spirit, not apart from your Word, but through it.

Work in him to speak the truth in love. Your Word is truth. May he never be a clanging cymbal, filled with knowledge but having not love.

May he understand the surprisingly biblical cliche, "They won't really care what you know if they don't know that you care."

May he understand that the sheep need shepherds who love them first, then shepherd them, always feeding them with The Shepherd, without Whom they will starve. Amen.

Anonymous said...

thanks terry, i appreciate the prayer immensely. i have good mind to print it and keep it somewhere close as a healthy reminder on both how a pastor should live his ministry and how good it is to have friendships with brothers afar :)