Among other things, Barclay writes this on page 134,
"There was obviously a flexibility about the order of service in the early Church. Everything was informal enough to allow any man who felt that he had a message to give to give it. It may well be that we set far too much store on dignity and order nowadays, and have become the slaves of orders of service. The really notable thing about an early Church service must have been that almost everyone came feeling that he had both the privilege and the obligation of contributing something to it. A man did not come with the sole intention of being a passive listener; he came not only to receive but to give. Obviously this had its dangers, for it is clear that in Corinth there were those who were too fond of the sound of their own voices; but nonetheless the Church must have been in those days much more the real possession of the ordinary Christian. It may well be that the Church lost something when she delegated so much to the professional ministry and left so little to the ordinary Church member."
While I don't agree with all of Barclay's terminology ("service," "member"), I do appreciate his observations on what early church gatherings looked like. In particular, Barclay points out the flexibility, informality, and participatory nature of church meetings. Notice that Barclay writes of the gatherings that each man had "both the privilege and the obligation of contributing something to it."
What impact should the above information have on our church meetings today? What obligations do we as individuals have to bring something to our gatherings? Should we learn from the early church, or do we have freedom to do what we want to do?