Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. (James 3:1)
I love contrasting Scripture because it always gives you a better understanding of God’s intended meaning. Teacher is one of the gifts listed in Romans 12:7, 1 Cor 12:28, and Eph 4:11. A measure of authority is implied (See also Acts 13:1, 1 Thess 5:12-13, Heb 13:7).
But the presence of a gifted teacher no more limits others from teaching than the presence of a gifted evangelist limits others from evangelizing. How else can these gifts be developed? One of the main purposes of an assembly is to give everyone who has considered how to stimulate others to love and good deeds an opportunity to do so.
Read Hebrews 10:24-25 and 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. The thrust of 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14 is the various parts of the body working together in love, and no part is any more or any less valuable than any other part. All parts are necessary.
When you assemble, each one has a psalm, a teaching, an exhortation…
This appears to have been standard practice in the first century church.
Things were getting a little chaotic at the church in Corinth, so Paul told them to limit the number of speakers; and not to interrupt each other. You can add it up yourself; but it looks like they were to limit it to around a dozen speakers per assembly. Of course, you could rotate speakers between assemblies so everyone who had considered how to stimulate others to love and good deeds could still do so.
These restrictions were because of a bunch of fleshly, immature Christians at Corinth. For example, look at 1 Cor 3:1-3, or just read the whole book. Within reason, these restrictions don’t entirely apply to every church, but would certainly apply to a bunch of fleshly, immature Christians.
Children need many restrictions. If all goes well, they eventually pass from immaturity to maturity and enter the adult community, just as Christians are supposed to pass from immaturity and become mature Christians. Mature people have different roles, and some have more wisdom than others, but all have equally valid participation.
Imagine a man who should be mature, but who perpetually depends on his parents to run his life. The clergy/laity system is like a dysfunctional parent/child relationship; the kids never grow up and become mature Christians. It produces perpetual immaturity.
For those accustomed to the rigid clergy/laity format, where the masses pack the pews and the ‘professionals’ tell them what to think, a dozen different speakers per assembly may seem chaotic at first glance. But done properly and in an orderly manner, this is actually rather refreshing. Everyone gets to enjoy the benefits of different perspectives and teaching styles. Those who prepare and deliver an exhortation can tell you that they learn a lot more than they do when just listening.
One of the major motivations for maintaining the clergy/laity format is control. They can’t have people thinking for themselves or they would go out of business.
What if someone says something unorthodox? OK, so now truth seekers have to examine the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so. Is that so bad? Open and honest discussion leads to greater depths of understanding and discovery of the riches contained in the word of God.
Why should anyone allow a man or group of men to do their thinking for them? Entrusting your eternity to ‘the clergy’ is plain foolish. Sadly, spiritual growth is stagnated by organized religion, and multitudes are turned off by this dysfunctional misrepresentation of Christianity.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits. (Heb 5:12-6:3)
Give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. (1 Tim 4:13)