On Christian Order in Worship
Every congregation deals with issues concerning what is appropriate when the body of Christ assembles together to worship. Some churches set their practice by looking to the culture to guide their practice, some churches simply follow traditions, and others search the Scriptures to see what God prescribes for His people. We want to be a people who look beyond cultural pressure and the traditions of men and seek to follow what God has set for us for our good.
One major concern in regards to Christian order in worship is the roles of different people in the gathered assembly. This includes roles according to age, gifting, and gender. Roles according to gender are one of the most controversial, yet this is a subject we must seek to be Biblical on. Every church sets gender roles, whether they do so by segregating men and women, or by giving women license to pastor and preach.
It is our desire, as faithfully to Scripture as we can, to set the standard for practice in our gatherings. We believe that Scripture sets one uniform standard, and we intend for our church to have one practice whenever we gather together. There has been some confusion about what is and is not appropriate in regards to the contributions of women in our gatherings, we want to clear up that confusion and set a standard of practice.
[In all areas of faith and practice, we are open to being corrected according to Scripture and reason, but until such a time as we are convinced by Scripture and reason that we ought to have a different practice, this is where we are landing.]
Texts in Consideration:
- Women were praying and prophesying during the worship gathering
- It is proper for women to be visibly under authority in the assembly
- Whether or not head-coverings are cultural, the principle of authority and submission are clearly present
- The instruction for women to remain silent is in the context of testing the prophecy given during the worship gathering
- When we give a word in the gathered assembly, we are speaking as though we have a word from God for the edification of the body. As such, it is subject to testing and correction according to the whole council of the Word of God.
- There is an appropriate and an inappropriate way for this to look, largely according to the order of authority in the home and in the body
- It is inappropriate for a woman to exercise authority over a man, in the home or in the church.
- Teaching is clearly a form of exercising authority.
- It was an Old Covenant expectation that under the New Covenant God would pour out His Spirit upon all of His people.
- Even though women were overall passive in Temple and synagogue worship, there was promise that one day men and women would hear from God; dream dreams, see visions, and prophesy.
- Being a part of the body of Christ is not dependent on birth, economic position, or gender.
- Greeks and Jews, free men and slaves, men and women, are all equally filled with the Holy Spirit in Christ; women are not less or inferior in the economy of Christ.
- Under the New Covenant, all believers hold a form of priesthood; everyone has access to the Father through Christ. We do not need to go through anyone else to approach, or hear from, God. In Christ we boldly approach the throne.
- Men and women have equal access to the Father in Christ
Principles into Practice
With all of these Biblical principles in view, here are some guidelines for our practice when we gather together as a body.
- We believe that Scripture is clear that the role of leading and teaching in the gathered assembly is given only to men.
- We believe that Scripture is clear that women are gifted by God’s Spirit, and do have a role in worship for the edification of the entire body.
- We believe that Scripture teaches enough on this issue that we can be confident in setting a standard of practice.
- While it is appropriate that formal teaching be limited to men who are so gifted, it is appropriate for any who are spiritual, both men and women, to give a word of exhortation and encouragement as God lays it on their hearts according to good order.
- It is appropriate for all who are spiritual to pray in the gathered assembly according to the leading of the Spirit and good order.
- We will set aside times in our gatherings for discussion, exhortation, questions, and for prayer. In these times it is appropriate for anyone who is spiritual to ask questions, give a word of something God has laid on their heart, and to pray.
- It is inappropriate in these times for anyone other than an elder to make a point that is outside of the accepted belief and practice of the church.
- Everything is subject to proper testing according to the whole council of the Word of God. It is a charge of spiritual authorities to guard closely the doctrine of the body; error will be corrected as lovingly and graciously as possible, but it must be addressed.
- When something is said that seems against the testimony of Scripture, it is inappropriate for a woman to bring question against a man, and it is inappropriate for a younger man to bring question against a recognized authority in the church (pastor or otherwise).
- Any challenges to what has been said that are inappropriate for the gathered assembly should be discussed in good order privately. We do not intend to stifle questions and concerns, but to handle all things according to Scripture and good order.
- Whenever possible, it is safest and most appropriate for married women to speak through their husbands. If it is possible, they can get his thoughts on what they desire to ask or to say before proceeding, or they can wait until an appropriate moment in the home. Similarly, single women should look to their fathers if they are present.
The intention of this is to bring clarity where there has been confusion, to liberate everyone to be able to use their gifting in order to build up the body. We need all the gifts that God has given our body, yet we need to use them according to God’s prescribed order.
Until such time as God brings greater light to this issue and we are convinced our practice ought to be otherwise, we intend that this be the consistent practice of all of our gatherings. We do not want people to be left guessing what is and is not appropriate in any given situation; one rule of practice for everything.
11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife  is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every wife  who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.  11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
 11:3 Greek gunē. This term may refer to a woman or a wife, depending on the context
 11:5 In verses 5-13, the Greek word gunē is translated wife in verses that deal with wearing a veil, a sign of being married in first-century culture
 11:10 Or messengers, that is, people sent to observe and report
29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.
12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.  16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants  and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
The Lord Will Pour Out His Spirit
28  “And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
 2:28 Ch 3:1 in Hebrew
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave  nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
 3:28 Greek bondservant
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:9-10
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.