I posted this several years ago. But it is a good reminder to myself and, hopefully, all of us regardless of what context we are in.
In my past life, as a pastor of a traditional church, I felt the responsibility to hear what God is saying and to pass that word along to "the people." Of course, God's word is always God's word and it will always bear fruit. But how much more fruit is available when every Christian discovers his/her gifts and his/her ability to hear the "rhema"-- the living Word through the written word-- and to be able to share those gifts and His word with one another.
The shifts the responsibility for hearing from God to each person-- to everyone-- and that takes some getting used to. But what an explosion can take place as the church worships and listens. Jack Deere (Suprised by the Voice of God) shares this:
The New Testament church was not only the dwelling place for the presence of God, it was also a learning center for the language of the Holy Spirit. People not only worshipped God in church, but they were equipped to hear him, and after hearing God, they were able to give something to someone that would build them up.
In preparation for this, Jack challenges us to consider why we gather as a church. It's not about tickling our spiritual ears or getting a little spiritual lift (though these may well happen), rather he suggests that we gather for four reasons: 1. To hear Jesus and be healed by Him, 2. To worship God together, 3. To be equipped to do the work of ministry, and 4. To be built up in Christ. He contends that all of this can take place only as every person gest involved-- bringing something edifying to share, learning to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying, and ministering to one another.
If you lived in the New Testament times, you prepared your heart to come to church, you prepared your heart to worship, you came expecting to be equipped for ministry, and you asked God to give you a gift to bring with you so that you might be used to strengthen someone else. This was the New Testament way of going to church.