Read 1 Corinthians 14:40
40 But be sure that everything is done properly and in order. (NLT)
We sometimes hear of churches pursuing ‘excellence’. God deserves our very best and second-best is not nearly good enough. Sounds reasonable, but it can very easily lead to a performance mindset. If something untoward happens, if something goes wrong, then we may conclude that God has left the building because things didn’t go according to script.
Church is not like that. True, we don’t aim to be slack. We do want to do our best. But computers sometimes go slow during vibrant worship brackets. Children sometimes cry when the sermon reaches its climax. Mobiles sometimes interrupt what we hope might be a deep and meaningful waiting on God time.
Paul urges us to do things in an orderly way. This in its context means that no one spiritual gift and no one person is to dominate. Our church gatherings might be messy, noisy, and be occasionally disrupted. But this does not mean anarchy, chaos, or an egotistical free-for-all.
We do our best to properly plan and arrange our gatherings. But we make allowances not only for some unexpected intervention of the Spirit but also the vagaries of sound systems, little children, passing traffic, and dive-bombing insects.
Our God is not simply to be found in the pristine silences and the musical crescendos. He is found in the messiness and awkwardness of life, even church life. Ultimately, he values us more than ‘excellence’.