Every church service has a rhythm, a cadence that it follows. I can remember going to a Catholic service with a friend of mine; I was completely lost. It seemed as though everyone else knew what to do when to sit, when to stand, when to kneel. I did my best to mimic those around me, but it wasn’t a worshipful experience because I felt so lost. Protestant churches have an order of service too. It’s not quite as complicated (or maybe I’m just more familiar with it). We sing worship songs, pray, preach the Scriptures, and celebrate Communion. The early Church had an order of service too, but they included an additional element that didn’t show up in the Catholic or Protestant churches that I’ve attended.

Listen to the Apostle Paul as he writes to the church in Corinth: Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head — it is the same as having her head shaved. (1 Corinthians 11:4-5)

Hold all those questions about head coverings for now and let’s acknowledge that Paul’s assumption was prophecy was a normal part of the worship gathering and both men and women were participating equally in prophetic work. That word prophecy is a bit slippery, so allow me to define it. It means to foretell, as in looking to the future. But it also means to forthtell, meaning “thus saith the Lord.” Forthtelling may have looked a bit more like modern-day preaching. This was something both men and women were participating in during the worship service.

Can you imagine having a “prophecy” portion of worship? It appears the early church did. I’m not entirely sure what we ought to do with this truth, but I’m confident that we “shouldn’t despise prophecies” (1 Thessalonians 5:20). Even if it doesn’t fall directly within the public worship gathering on a Sunday morning, if we’re going to take our cues from Scripture, we must be open to prophesy, and we must position both men and women to function in the prophetic. 1 Corinthians 11 teaches us that prophecy was a normalized part of their gatherings, how might it become more of a part of our spiritual growth?

Ryan Paulson
Lead Pastor

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