the weblog of Alan Knox

What are our church meetings like?

Posted by on Jun 30, 2009 in gathering, guest blogger | 14 comments

People in the Raleigh area occasionally email me and ask if they can meet with our church. Of course, anyone is welcomed to meet with us. Sometimes, they ask me, “What are your church meetings like? What should I expect?”

Well, I recently met Jon. We had lunch together, and last Sunday he met with us. I asked him if he would tell me about his time with us. I told him that I would like to post it on my blog (before I received his description). So, this is what Jon said about meeting with us last Sunday (he wrote it as a letter to the church):

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Dear Brothers and Sisters of Messiah Baptist Church,

For the last few years now, my spiritual instincts have told me that something was missing from my overall church experience. My whole life as a believer, I assumed any dissatisfaction with the “worship service” was the result of my inadequacies or my lack of “spirituality.” I’m still inadequate, and I’m still not very spiritual, but something was telling me that I wasn’t the only thing broken.

The Lord has taught me quite a bit over the last year, and I have finally taken the step of faith to leave my existing church and search for a deeper church experience … something closer to what we see in the New Testament, and what I believe Christ intended. That is why I greatly anticipated my visit to your church this past Sunday. Of course, anticipation wasn’t the only feeling I had. I was also a little skeptical, perhaps somewhat afraid. I’ve been reading a lot lately about simple / organic church, and in the back of my mind, I can picture the type of people this might attract: rebels, non-conformers, heretics, etc. (somewhat kidding). What if I was disappointed? What if what I have been envisioning for over a year was a big let-down?

Any reservations aside, I found myself being mostly excited to visit with you. I was eager to experience some of the things that we actually read about in the New Testament. I am happy to say that I was very filled and fulfilled by our meeting together. I was surprised (while also not surprised) by how natural it felt, as if I was in my element. I guess the best way to describe it is to say that it felt very “balanced.” I guess one of my fears was that it would seem like, “let’s do everything we can to not look like an institutional church!” … “let’s be extremely different!” Rather, it felt like a genuine pursuit of our Lord’s idea of church. I was comfortable in the corporate sense (as a fellow believer) but challenged in a personal sense (in light of what we studied). It was refreshing and it was very balanced.

Here are the elements of the meeting that meant most to me:

Fellowship — I felt very welcomed among the group. It wasn’t just the “hello, welcome to our service, glad you’re here today.” It was genuine, meaningful conversation. You were interested in who I was and what was going on in my life. The meal was also very special. It gave everyone a chance to further connect and spend time together. I loved the fact that there was no sense of hurry or “look what time it is!” … We were just content to share our time.

Family — I love that the entire family is included in the meeting. We love having our son in church with us now and I like the idea that he can learn with us as he matures.

Interaction — I personally liked the circle seating arrangement. I don’t know how you normally do it, but it seemed very appropriate for sharing amongst the group. I love that everyone had an opportunity to share, read scripture, and have input (and it was decently and in order). I also loved the fact that there was freedom to be vulnerable, whether it be a hard situation someone is going through or even a sin that needs to be confessed.

Music — I’m assuming you usually have a guitar or something (which I like), but I enjoyed being able to sing without a lot of extra noise. It allowed me to focus on the meaning and the message of the songs. I was glad to see a good balance in the song selections (hymns, choruses, etc) … all familiar. A couple of songs did seem to “drag’ on a little bit, mainly the ones with a lot of verses (but I’m sure that’s just the old worship leader in me). I’ve yet to develop a comfort level with “contemporary” church music or the idea that “worship” is all focused on the musical part of the service, so I was definitely pleased to see that the corporate singing (and the whole meeting for that matter) appealed to the spirit rather than the emotions.

Bible Study — What a great lesson and very good insight from the whole body. I left having discovered new truths shared by all those who had something to add. It was refreshing to see a meeting where the Holy Spirit has more control than we do. Yet, it was not a “free-for-all.” Everyone shared (with humility) according to their spiritual insight. I did not sense that anyone was trying to draw attention to themselves by what they had to say.

Now, I can finally say that I know what I’ve been missing! Thank you all again for allowing a fellow brother join your family for one day. I certainly look forward to doing it again soon.

Until we meet again,
Jon


14 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 6-30-2009

    YES.

    (I tried to think of something more to say, but that sums up my thoughts perfectly.)

  2. 6-30-2009

    How beautiful!

  3. 6-30-2009

    Alan,

    Thank you for that report. What a great blessing to read.

  4. 6-30-2009

    Thank you all for your comments!

    -Alan

  5. 7-4-2009

    ohhh I want that!

  6. 7-5-2009

    Hi Jon/Alan,

    Could you give a bit more info about the bible study bit of the service? How did that happen?

    Andrew

  7. 7-5-2009

    Andrew,

    I’ll let Jon answer about the week that he met with us if he wants to. My answer: It changes from week to week, depending on who is scheduled to teach and who is present during the meeting. Each week, someone is scheduled to teach, and that person can teach in whatever method he chooses. (For example, when I teach, I try to make it as interactive as possible by asking questions and encouraging input.) Also, after the scheduled teaching, we have a time where anyone can ask a question, make a comment, or even bring their own teaching.

    -Alan

  8. 4-11-2011

    Sounds awesome. I remember that post. How does your group determine who is going to teach? Are there any limitations on who can teach? Does the individual teaching determine what is being taught? Do you help the other teachers prepare for their time of teaching or do they do that on their own?

  9. 4-11-2011

    Hutch,

    Typically, we decide a few weeks ahead of time what we are going to study (usually either a certain book or topic) and who will lead our teaching time each week. Right now, we’ve decided as a group that only males will lead that. Women take part in the discussion though. If someone wants help preparing for teaching, then they can certainly ask for it. I’ve helped a few people who have asked for help.

    -Alan

  10. 4-11-2011

    Cool. When you say “we” decide does that mean the entire group decides what will be taught and who will teach it? Sorry about the 20 questions, I’m not finding fault or challenging you, I’m just really curious about how you guys do things. I’m familiar with Traditional & Instutional as well as organic where everyone spends time with the LORD during the week and each person is encouraged to share an insight or teaching from their time spent in the word and with the Word-anything abberant or innacurate is brought gently back into focus/line with the scriptures by the more mature disciples. So issues like how a decision is made about what is being taught and who is teaching fascinates me. I promise the interogation is over. :)

  11. 4-11-2011

    Hutch,

    I don’t feel like you’re interrogating me. There are many ways that groups of believers can meet together. We’ve met together in different ways ourselves. Currently, we don’t have a particular method of choosing what we’re going to study next. Often, someone will suggest a certain topic or book to study. Sometimes, if no one has made a suggestions, then the elders will talk about it and choose something to study. Either way, We bring it up on Sunday or through email, and if no one objects, then we do whatever was suggested. Feel free to ask more questions.

    -Alan

  12. 4-11-2011

    Hutch,

    By the way, with our group, even if we have decided to study a certain book or topic together, anyone is always welcome to share from what they are personally studying.

    -Alan

  13. 4-11-2011

    Thanks Alan.

  14. 4-11-2011

    Hutch,

    My pleasure. Thank you for the questions.

    -Alan

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