the weblog of Alan Knox

Scheduled Meetings or Unscheduled Meetings

Posted by on Jan 28, 2008 in gathering | 8 comments

Recently, I had lunch with Lew from “The Pursuit“. Lew is a very good friend and former co-worker. If things continue as Lew and his wife hope, then God is moving us farther part in location – they plan to move to another state. However, from talking with Lew, it is also clear that God is moving us closer together spiritually.

At our recent lunch, we talked about Lew’s plans for meeting together and forming relationships with other Christians as the church once they move. One thing that is encouraging to me is that Lew and his wife plan to move near her parents, and that her parents are interested in different methods of meeting together and living as the church.

As we talked, I asked Lew a question – one that I have been pondering for some time: When the church meets together, is it necessary to have regularly scheduled (planned?) meetings, or is it necessary to have unscheduled (unplanned, casual?) meetings, or is it necessary to have both?

Now, in this question, and in the title of this post, I have tried to use words with as little “baggage” as possible – although I realize that it is impossible to remove all baggage (connotations) from words.

In the question, when I say “scheduled” meetings, I’m talking about meetings with believers that are scheduled to happen at the same time (and probably place) on a regular schedule (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc). Note that this says nothing about the number of people who attend this meeting, nor does it say anything about what happens during the meeting. Perhaps a more complete name for these types of meetings would be “meetings which occur on a regular schedule” or “regularly scheduled meetings”.

When I say “unscheduled” meetings, I’m talking about meetings with believers that are not scheduled to happen on a regular interval. These meetings occur on occasion, although they could sometimes occurs as often as daily, and sometimes much less often. Again, the name “unscheduled” says nothing about the number of people gathered for this meeting, nor does it say anything about what happens during the meeting. Perhaps a more complete name for these types of meetings would be “meetings which do not occur on a regular schedule” or “non-regularly scheduled meetings”.

I do not mean to associate “scheduled” meetings or “unscheduled” meetings – at least in this post – with any particular type of meeting. In discussing “scheduled” meetings, I do not intend to include simply traditional Sunday morning church meetings. There are many different types of meetings that can be scheduled. Also, do not think about “unscheduled” meetings as simply nontraditional church meetings. “Unscheduled” meetings can be as traditional as “scheduled” meetings.

Our family gathers with other believers both in “scheduled” meetings and in “unscheduled” meetings. We have met in “scheduled” meetings which were very nontraditional with only a few people involved. We have met in “unscheduled” meetings which included many believers and were very traditional in nature.

The question that I asked Lew – and the question that I ask you as well – revolves simply around the question of whether it is necessary to have meetings that are “scheduled”, “unscheduled”, or both. So, what do you say? Which type(s) of meeting(s) is/are necessary? Scheduled? Unscheduled? Both? Why? As a follow up, if you think that the “scheduled”/”unscheduled” question is the wrong question to ask, then what is the right question, and why?


8 Comments

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  1. 1-28-2008

    At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, I will say that it is not “necessary” for our meetings to be either “scheduled” or “unscheduled.” However, it is beneficial that they be both.

  2. 1-28-2008

    Alan,

    Some people need regular meetings which are planned (I loathe the word ‘scheduled’)for a certain time on a certain day, when the whole congregation is together. What happens at that time ought to be less rigidly planned and more spontaneous.

    On the other hand, I have always encouraged meeting to be spontaneous as well, for whatever reason.

    When regular meetings become a habitual thing, a legal necessity, I think we’ve lost the plot of what the Body of Christ is about.

  3. 1-29-2008

    David,

    I agree. It is not necessary to meet in scheduled or unscheduled meetings, but both types may have some benefit. So, the, what is necessary concernig the meetings?

    Aussie John,

    I could not decide whether to use schedule/unscheduled or planned/unplanned, which is why I defined exactly what I meant by the terms. I agree that both planned and spontaneous meetings can be beneficial. But, like I asked David above, if scheduled/unscheduled is not necessary, then what is necessary about our meetings?

    -Alan

  4. 1-29-2008

    Alan,

    This will always be difficult to quantify. But I would think that meetings should be often enough to effectively carry out the “one anothers.” The meetings should be done in a way that best facilitates the edification/spiritual growth/discipleship of those involved.

  5. 1-29-2008

    Alan,

    The necessary part/s of gathering together is as Paul’s words indicate in Eph. 4:12ff, “….to perfect the saints, to do the work of ministry, and to build up the body of Christ until all of us are united in the faith and in the full knowledge of God’s Son, and until we attain mature adulthood and the full standard of development in Christ. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed like waves and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, or by clever strategies that would lead us astray. Instead, by speaking the truth in love, we will grow up completely into the one who is the head, that is, into Christ, in whom the whole body is united and held together by every ligament with which it is supplied. AS EACH INDIVIDUAL PART DOES ITS JOB, the body’s growth is promoted so that it builds itself up in love.” (ISV)

    I hope that doesn’t seem smug, it’s what I sincerely believe. Well, I think I’m agreeing with David’s “one anothers” comment.

    “As each individual part does its job” is the hinge upon which the WHOLE of congregational life hangs, which Paul indicates in 1 Cor.12:7, “To EACH person has been given the ability to display the Spirit for the common good”.

    Of course, the above is only possible if leadership relinquishes its autocratic stance and recognises that leadership of the Body of Christ is more like a conductor informing, encouraging and drawing ALL the instruments into harmonious function and personally disappearing into the end result.

    I can’t think of anything more satisfying.

  6. 1-29-2008

    David and Aussie John,

    As you both probably know, I agree with you 100%! The purpose of this post was to get people to realize that the timing or frequency of our meetings were not of utmost importance. Instead, according to Scripture, building each other up whenever we come together is necessary and expected. But, of course, since both of you have already thought about these things, the questions were easy for you.

    -Alan

  7. 1-31-2008

    I would say that we need both. My thinking is that we must “schedule” some, b/c sometimes “unscheduled” things just don’t happen…we get so busy with “life” (school, family stuff, cleaning, activities, going to Wal-Mart) that sometimes we forget to just hang out with other Christians. Also, some ppl don’t really like the whole “unscheduled thing”…

  8. 1-31-2008

    Rhea,

    Thanks for the comment. Our family attends both scheduled and unscheduled meetings. However, like David and Aussie John said, the frequency or scheduling of the meeting is less important to me than the purpose for the meeting.

    -Alan