Robert Lovelace On The Pattern Of Congregational Life

Below is post from Justin Taylor on The Gospel Coalition blog. Following are a few thoughts.
 
Richard Lovelace:
The pattern of congregational life established by the beginning of the Middle Ages, in which the laity become passive observers of the redemptive mystery instead of celebrants and participants mutually edifying one another, has resulted in an individualistic spirituality that the church has never quite abandoned.
In this model of the Christian life the individual believer is connected to the source of grace like a diver who draws his air supply from the surface through a hose.  He is essentially a self-contained system cut off from the other divers working around him. If their air supply is cut off, this does not damage him nor can he share with them the air that he receives.  The situation would be no different if he were working alone a hundred miles away.
Lovelace contrasts this with the body metaphor in the New Testament:
The organic metaphor for the church used by Paul absolutely negates this conception by asserting that grace is conveyed through the body of Christ along horizontal channels as well as through the vertical relationship of each believer to God.  No individual, congregation or denomination of Christians is spiritually independent of the others. . . .  Therefore, ‘the normal Christian life’ is not simply a function of an individual believer’s relationship to God.  If he is isolated from Christians around him who are designed to be part of the system through which he receives grace, or if those Christians are themselves spiritually weak, he cannot be as strong and as filled with the Spirit as he otherwise would be.
—Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1979), pp. 167-168.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” . . . If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (1 Corinthians 12:21, 26)

My thoughts...

This was a GREAT post and quote that Taylor has provided. I am somewhat dumbfounded that Taylor posted this. Here's why: Lovelace is exactly right and Taylor obviously agrees with Lovelace's thoughts and premise that the laity are not to be passive observers. This is true not only when it comes to the overall ministry of church...when things are done outside of the Lord's Day gathering. But is especially true when the body gathers for worship and celebration each Lord's Day. The gathering of saints is not to typically be dominated by the "ministry" of one man...i.e. the preacher/teacher/pastor. It is to be shared by all (in appropriate ways of course). 
 
So I am dumbfounded because in most churches and I mean 95%+, this does not occur, nor is their an avenue for it and is probably not even allowed by many. I have no idea how the body functions when it gathers at Taylor's church, but I have to believe that his church and the majority of other like-minded churches the laity/saints are just like the diver...cut off from receiving grace/air and cut off from giving grace/air.  Could any brother who has a teaching share it on any given Sunday? Would anyone be free to pray for someone else? Would everyone be free to share a praise or testimony during the gathering? Could anyone share or sing a song as the Lord led? I am afraid the answer is NO in most cases. This should not be so.
 
So here's my request and plea to all who oversee such churches...as long as things can be done decently and in order, why not allow any member to minister as the Lord leads when the body is gathered for worship? Go ahead, try it! Unfortunately, people are so stuck in their ways, it may take lots of encouragement by the leadership to get others to minister. But, if the Holy Spirit guides it, it will be a blessing to all.

It is our desire at The Church of Charlottesville to create an environment where there is mutual ministry during the gathering. Edifying and being edified.