What can be done to encourage more men to stand up and share their thoughts at the Breaking of Bread? How can we help the quiet ones participate audibly in the communal worship at the Lord’s Supper?
Someone is always on his feet first
The story of the lame man in John chapter 5 may help us to sympathize. Gathered at Bethesda, many blind, lame and paralyzed men sat waiting for the moving of the water, for in former times an angel had appeared and stirred up the water, and apparently, the first one into the water was healed.
For the paralyzed man of John chapter 5 the problem was always the same: someone else made it into the pool first. I fear often times the same situation happens at the Breaking of Bread. While a shy brother may be busy gathering his thoughts, another brother jumps to his feet and beats him to it. What can be done to help the silent brother?
Embrace the Silences
Those who share their thoughts or prayers at the breaking of bread are leading us in the worship and remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is why, after a brother prays, or shares his thoughts from the Word, it is helpful to allow a short period of silence to fall. This facilitates worship.
This intentional silence does two helpful things: first, it allows us to ponder, process or relish the beautiful thought or prayer just shared; and second, it allows a little more time for the timid brother to rise to his feet. Over the years I have come to enjoy the silences of worship just as much as the things said at the Lord’s Supper.
Led By the Spirit
We have all experienced the situation where two brothers get up at the same time to speak at the Breaking of Bread. Which one is being led by the Spirit and which one isn’t? Maybe we have been looking at this situation the wrong way. Perhaps being led by the Spirit means the manner in which we do things not necessarily the order in which we do them.
In this way, both brothers have been led by the Spirit. It doesn’t matter if they both rose to their feet at the same time. Remember that worship is inspired not programmed. Praise is freely offered not divinely ordained. It is not as if some hypnotic trance overtakes us, making us say things as mindless robots. It’s okay that two brothers got up at the same time. Courtesy should guide the way.
Wait on One Another
The Corinthians had a problem. Some were drunk at the Lord’s Supper; others were neglecting the poor. As well as remembering the Lord through the bread and wine, the early church shared meals together which later became known as love-feasts.
The Corinthians’ problem was that some people were taking their meals before others, or were eating so much food that others had none. Paul rebukes them for their discourteous, selfish manner, saying, “Each one takes his own supper ahead of others…” (1 Cor.11:21).
Silence is golden
I fear what happened at the literal supper of the Corinthians sometimes takes place at our meetings. Each one jumps to his feet, quick to share a thought, taking no thought of the timid brother who may need more time to muster up his courage to organize his thoughts. Instead let those who are eager or comfortable with public speaking should allow a few minutes of silence. Two or three minutes should suffice. Silence, as they say, is golden.
In conclusion, let us take Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians and apply it ourselves: “Therefore, my brethren, when you come together…wait for one another” (1 Cor.11:33). A little silence can go a long way. As one preacher once said concerning the Breaking of Bread service, let “each one come prepared [to speak] but not determined.” In this way, we provide an opportunity for the silent brother to speak.