Here are some of Isaac’s reflections on what it was like to show up at Chapel Hill Mennonite and experience a community that made “the priesthood of all believers” a living reality:
During the service people from behind me, in front of me, and to my right and left got up to lead various parts of our worship. Someone offered a prayer, another person led us in a few songs, and four different people took turns reading from the Bible. After hearing from the Scriptures, a woman got up from her pew, took her turn at the pulpit, and preached to us. When she had finished, she returned to her seat and someone else went up to the pulpit and invited the rest of us to offer our thoughts about the sermon or to share whatever else the Holy Spirit may have spoken during the service. This was the high point of the service, the culmination of worship.
In the Mennonite tradition, this liturgical moment of conversation and communal discernment is called the Zeugnis. During this time, the gathered community is asked to discern whether or not the gospel was preached, and if it was indeed preached, to then discern what this gospel may mean for the life of the church. The preacher is deliberately divested of control over the proclamation of the gospel, and the last word belongs to the congregation, not to the preacher. Because the church is an assembly of priests, the final authority to speak for God comes through the conversation or the Zeugnis. Through the power of the Spirit, God’s word echoes through the voices of all who gather.
For the full article, follow this link to The Other Journal: “Forms and Flows of the Word.”