What then shall we say, brothers?
When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.
All of these
must be done for the strengthening of the church. â€“ Paulâ€™s instruction on what pleases God in the Meeting 1 Corinthians 14:26 (NIV)
There is a moment in our services each week where I feel led by the Spirit to put my palms up and pray, “Lord, this is Your Meeting, Your people, and Your House…I am Your servant, have Your way in our midst.” What I am trying to do is posture myself to follow what the Spirit of God wants to do in the Meeting He called. While Pastor Jason (my Worship Pastor) and I pray, plan, prepare and practice all week long on the worship and word components of the Meeting, we both believe that a successful service is not merely the completion of a pre-planned service order. No, we are here in this sacred space with God’s people in a Meeting He called to please Him by following the leading of His Spirit. Truth be told, it makes me nervous. My engineering background and my structured personality is not given to spontaneity and surprises. Yet, my conviction of the Scripture tells me that there are certain components, expressions from God’s people, spiritual gifts and moments of affection to God that can and do fall outside of an officially planned church service. Scripture is clear that when such events occur, they need to be done “in a fitting and orderly way” (1 Corinthians 14:40). I believe those words by the Apostle are addressed to me and the leadership. These expressions and gifts are never meant to be the center of a church service. The preaching of God’s Word has always taken that sacred place. No, they are merely a part of it; a part that creates anticipation, risks, and attempts from God’s people to please Him. Some of the most precious moments I have ever seen in church have come from people who step out of their personality and comfort and take a risk to obey the Spirit and please God in these 5 minutes. That being said, some of the most bizarre things I have ever seen in church have also surfaced in this window. It is my intent with this tract to bring leadership to our Meetings by teaching how we can maintain both structure and spontaneity in our weekly gatherings. Attempting to please God by honoring His Word and following His Spirit,
QUESTIONS and ANSWERS
1. What is “5 Minutes on a Sunday?” 5 Minutes is simply a window in our services, typically during worship, where we create space for God to speak to us, either individually or corporately. According to God’s Word, we should see worship, instruction, insight and gifts come forth when this window is open (1 Corinthians 14:26). 2. Why do we have to do it? Four reasons: a) It’s biblical, b) It pleases God, c) It’s part of God’s story in people, and d) Paul says it’s evangelistic (1 Corinthians 14:22-25). 3. Why 5 Minutes? It’s an arbitrary number based on 1 Corinthians 14:27. Because of the selfish practices of those operating in spiritual gifts in the Corinthian church, Paul feels the need to regulate them (notice he never shuts them down). In doing so, he draws a line (two – or at most three), essentially saying it is not the main thing in the service. 4. So what is the centerpiece of the Meeting? In both the Old and New Testaments, the preaching of the Word of God is the centerpiece of the corporate worship service (Ezra 8; Luke 4:16-21; Acts 14:1-3). 5. What if we go over 5 minutes? The goal is not an exact 5 minutes. The goal is to give space in the service for God to speak to us individually and corporately. The Pastors will do their best to follow the Spirit, knowing this window is not the main part of the service; God’s Word is.
6. I’m not comfortable with this. If it helps, I’m not either. But this Meeting is not about your comfort or mine; it’s about God’s pleasure.
7. Why can’t people do this at home? We strive to follow New Testament standards and practices in the Meeting. According to the Scriptures, it is one part of a series of activities that pleases God when His people gather in His House (1 Corinthians 14:18-19, 26-33). Paul’s concern is not the presence of gifts in the Meeting, but the regulation of them by the leadership. 8. This is simply “weird” and I don’t want my family and I to be around it. If that were really your standard, then you would probably avoid many of the biblical stories and leaders. “Weird” is an arbitrary standard that often reflects our own personal preferences. We are trying to let God’s Word dictate the practices in our services, not any one person’s preferences, including our own. Paul says, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; [by] treating prophesies with contempt [but] test everything. Hold onto the good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21) 9. What are some ways God speaks to His people in the Meeting? Besides the Word of God, we see God speaking to people in a corporate setting through: a-b) Prophesy and tongues with interpretation (1 Corinthians 14), c) songs (Ephesians 5:19 and the Book of Psalms), and d) miracles (Mark 2:1-12, 3:1-6). 10. I can’t bring my lost friends to this setting. Paul did; why can’t you? (1 Corinthians 14:22-25) 11. Doesn’t tongues scare away unbelievers? Paul says “tongues are a sign from God for the unbeliever” (1 Corinthians 14:22) – that means God wants unbelievers to be near this expression (how can tongues be a sign for unbelievers if they never see it?). He also says that unbelievers should experience such a dynamic presence of God through the proper use of gifts in the Meeting that they should fall on their knees and cry out, “God is really among you!” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25)
12. What if I don’t want to speak in tongues? Then don’t. It’s not a requirement for membership. It won’t keep you out of leadership. It does not rob you of our friendship, support, love and ministry. That being said, if God is pleased to activate a gift He put in someone that pleases Him and will strengthen His church, we want to oblige.
13. Other churches don’t go here; why do we have to? I can’t speak to the decision and expression of other churches. I can only speak to VCC and our desire to please God by following what is prescribed in His Word. 14. Is the Assembly of God (A/G) pushing you to do this, Pastor Roger? Absolutely not! The Word of God, and the Word of God alone, is pushing me to do this. That being said, the sixteen fundamental truths that comprise the A/G doctrine, adopted by VCC and written into our Constitution, described these activities happening in our church. 15. What is Prophecy? For me, prophecy – at its functional level – is simply hearing thoughts, ideas, emotions and impressions that originate from God, and designated for a particular setting. Typically, it is not predicting the future (though it could be) as much as applying scriptural truths to a person or group of people. 16. How long should I be at VCC before I publicly give a prophetic word? I think it is odd to come into a setting and immediately speak into it. The Bible says you should be known amongst us (1 Thessalonians 5:12, KJB). It also says, “Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily” (1 Timothy 5:22, MSG). Relationships build the trust necessary for partnership and ministry. Membership is the primary path to us getting to know each other. It gives us both the opportunity to hear and understand each others story and gives us Pastors the opportunity to accommodate ourselves to serve God’s work in you. 17. What if I get a prophetic word? What do I do with it? Pray and ask God if it is for you, for someone else, or for His entire church. Ask what He wants you to do with it. Many times, He wants you to make it a matter of personal prayer. Other times, He wants you to share it with another person near you. Sometimes, He wants you to give it to everyone.
18. Arenâ€™t we adding to the Bible when we prophesy? No, we are NOT adding to the Bible. Prophecy is applying biblical truths to a specific setting.
19. What if I feel I have a prophetic word for the church? Ideally, you should come forward and ask a Pastor when it is appropriate to give it. He or she may ask for a synopsis of what you are hearing. He or she will then tell you when to give it or not give it. Don’t be offended if we feel it is not the right time for this word. As leaders, we see the entire ser vice and are tr ying to follow the Spirit’s leading in what we understand to be best for all God’s people. 20. Why are people so dramatic when they speak in tongues or give a prophetic word? I don’t know…why don’t you ask them? 21. Can I give a prophetic word from my seat or grab the mic up front? If you are a leader at Valley Christian, someone known by the Pastors and the leaders of the church as a respected voice in our community, feel free to follow the Spirit’s leading to give a word, either from your seat or come grab the mic up front. Discern the appropriate timing. If you are not sure, ask us. We simply ask that you let us facilitate a response. 22. What if I feel led to speak out in tongues that requires interpretation? Wait for the appropriate moment and follow the Spirit. Go ahead and do it from your seat. Then let the Pastors facilitate an interpretation and response. 23. Can someone pray in tongues and interpret themselves? Yes, according to 1 Corinthians 14:13, the person who speaks out in tongues can interpret themselves.
24. I have seen some people sing spontaneous songs to the Lord. What is that all about? Paul talks about “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs and to sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). The fact that he says “one another” infers corporate activity. Similiarly, most of the Book of Psalms are songs written for corporate settings. Thus, part of God’s design in people is to express through song, His desires, affection and concerns for His people.
25. According to Acts, tongues is a human language. What is all this gibberish I hear? To speak in tongues is to speak in a language unknown to the speaker. The Bible depicts two expressions of tongues: glossolalia (1 Corinthians 14) and xenolalia (Acts 2). Glossolalia is an unknown language spoken to God (1 Corinthians 14:2). Xenolalia is an unknown language to the speaker, but a known human language to the listener (Acts 2:6,8). No indication is given that glossolalia in 1 Corinthians 12-14 requires a natural knowledge of human languages to be understood by the listener. In fact, “interpretation of tongues” in this context is seen as a necessary spiritual gift for understanding (1 Corinthians 12:10). Additionally, nowhere else in the book of Acts, other than chapter 2, is there the indication that anything is actually being communicated to an audience hearing tongues (Acts 10:46; 19:6), implying that the function of tongues in chapter 2 of Acts may have been somewhat unique. If that is true, then glossolalia, not xenolalia, is what’s happening throughout the book of Acts. 26. Can I pray out loud? Yes, you are free to please the Father in His house. We only ask that you do so in the appropriate setting. 27. Can I read a scripture that I feel is appropriate for the Body? Absolutely! Discern when. If you aren’t sure, ask a Pastor. Once you’re done, let us discern how to respond. 28. Are all these “words” from the Lord? No…some are simply prayers, some words of affection, some words of praise. Some are simply noise. 29. How do we tell the difference? When a “word” is given, what should I look for? The word of God. Evaluate everything by the word of God. When someone is brave enough to give a “word,” it is up to the people of Christ’s church to evaluate the content. Paul said to “test everything and hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). John tells us to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God or not” (1 John 5:21). Paul says, “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said” (1 Corinthians 14:29). God is speaking through and to His people. We need to discern what He is saying. Once this is done, leadership will then decided how to proceed.
30. Sometimes I see the same people doing this. So do we. Our preference is that we are all inclusive in the work of the prophetic. That’s how the Bible says it should go (1 Corinthians 14:26). If we as leaders feel the same people are always stepping into this window, we may ask that they step back so others may step forward. Don’t be offended. Know that we are simply trying to give all God’s people an opportunity to please Him in this window. This includes the young people in our midst – “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for believers in speech [that includes prophetic speech]…” (1 Timothy 4:12).
31. What will you do if someone is really “out there?” If we feel a word or an expression is not congruent with God’s Word or with expressions found in His Word, we probably won’t do anything in our ser vices, but will address it one-on-one at a later time. Unless it is heretical or offensive, we will not correct or rebuke publicly. Doing that would squash attempts for people to please God and follow the Spirit. On a few occasions, we have called people later and asked, “Help me understand…” Often times, they simply need some coaching and encouragement. 32. What is necessary for God’s Spirit to work in the corporate setting? In a word – safety. People will never risk for God if they feel they will be embarrassed or rebuked by the leadership. At VCC, we applaud all attempts to please God. Since no gift is given in a mature state, we celebrate the risk…the vulnerability…the willingness…the surrender… that people take to please God. 33. How do I know I am ready to give a word? The Holy Spirit will make your hear t beat fast and your palms perspire. At least that’s how He works in me. You know His voice. Follow it and work with the leadership. 34. What happens if I miss the window? Since this window is not the main par t of the service, chances are there will be occasions where you felt prompted to do something and did not get an oppor tunity or chance to express what the Spirit prompted. First off, celebrate your obedience. Second, ask the Spirit if you are to let it go or do something else with it. If you still feel led to deliver it, I would write it down and share it with a Pastor after the service.
35. What will the Pastors do when God speaks through someone? If someone speaks out in this manner, the Pastors will stop the service to: a) explain, b) interpret, and c) apply what we understand God is saying to the church. The leadership will discern what is being said and who is being addressed. If we donâ€™t, we run the risk of falling into the chaos of the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 14:20-33, 39-40).
36. Can I call people forward to respond? No…speak what you are sensing the Spirit is telling you to say and then let the Pastors facilitate a response. Once again, we see the whole picture. Often times, a word given in one moment feeds into the message. On these occasions, it is best to hear the Word preached and then respond corporately. 37. Didn’t all these gifts die out when the Bible was created? There is no biblical or historical evidence that these gifts ceased being part of the church’s practice when John penned the last word in the book of Revelation. In fact, Mark 16, which is not credited as being part of the biblical recording of the Apostles, but is an addition written centuries after, shows that gifts like tongues were still in operation in the church hundreds of years after the resurrection of Jesus (Mark 16:9-20). 38. I think all of this is a distraction. I don’t think we should go down this road. What some call a distraction, we call obedience to God’s Word and to an expression that brings pleasure to Him. We admit, it is difficult to facilitate and can at times bring offense on how we lead it, but know that we go down this road because we are attempting to please God by following His Word. 39. Why doesn’t God just speak to me through the sermon? Good question…ask Him. According to the Bible, God has chosen numerous manners to speak to His people: sermons, prophetic words, dreams and visions, angelic visitations, promptings of the Spirit, and more. In order to be biblical, we believe we need to be open to all these expressions.
40. Is VCC becoming a “weird” Pentecostal church? First off, I shy away from labels that tend to be limiting and derogatory. No person I know likes labels and no institution wants them either. “Weird” is relative and often betrays our own comfort level. I would prefer to say, “VCC welcomes and celebrates all biblical expressions that God orchestrates through His people.” Second, truth be told, the dominant characteristic of VCC is serving people God loves. Our church is leading an effort that brings over 20,000 hours of service annually to people God loves in our region through CityServe (www.cityservetrivalley.org). Serving is the dominate attribute of this church. 5 minutes on a Sunday each week does not compare to the thousands of hours being given each year to try to reach a city God loves.
RESOURCES The Beauty Of Spiritual Language –Jack Hayford Initial Evidence: Historical and Biblical Perspectives on the Pentecostal Doctrine of Spirit Baptism –Gary B. McGee When the Spirit Speaks: Making Sense Out of Tongues, Interpretation, and Prophecy –Warren D. Bullock 2000 Years Of Charismatic Christianity: A 21st century look at church history from a pentecostal/charismatic prospective –Eddie L Hyatt
For more information on how we handle our 5 Minute window each week, visit our website:
Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way. â€“ Paulâ€™s instruction on what pleases God in the 5 minute window of the Meeting 1 Corinthians 14:39-40, NIV
Dr. Roger Valci is the Lead Pastor of Valley Christian Center in Dublin, California, where he is raising up five hundred ministers to reach the Tri-Valley for Jesus Christ. In 1995, he left his engineering career and traveled to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, to prepare for the pastorate. He received both his Masters of Divinity degree and his Doctorate in Preaching. In 2001, he became licensed as an Assembly of God minister, and in 2003, became ordained. Today, Roger lives in San Ramon, California, with his wife of twenty-one years, Janae, and his three children: Matthew (18), Taylor (15), and Erin (11). Matthew graduated from Valley Christian Schools in 2013, and now attends Biola University. Taylor and Erin still attend Valley Christians Schools.
7500 Inspiration Drive | Dublin, CA 94568 | www.ComeDiscoverVCC.org
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