This series is about our life with the church as we attempt to live together as brothers and sisters. (For a more detailed description of this series, see my post “Church Life – A New Series.”)
In this post of my Church Life series, I want to talk about the Sunday (or weekly) church meeting. There are ways to modify the traditional method of meeting in order to foster community and fellowship. These are some of the things that we’ve done, but certainly not all of the changes that could be made. Similarly, some of these changes may not be helpful in your situation.
One of the first changes that we made to the traditional method of meeting (at least the tradition that we were all accustomed to) was in the area of teaching (preaching). In Scripture, it seems that multiple people had opportunity to speak, teach, exhort, etc. when the church met. So, we wanted more than one person to have the opportunity to teach.
To begin with, we maintain a teaching schedule. Any of the men can sign up to teach a passage (we teach through books of the Bible, and we currently do not allow women to sign up to teach). This means that from week to week, different people will be speaking as the main teacher (preacher).
Each person that teaches has the option of teaching in whatever method they choose, since people both teach differently and learn differently. More and more have recognized the value of discussion and have included discussion in their teaching method.
Also, besides the main teaching (through a book of the Bible), we also leave time in our meeting for anyone to speak, exhort, give a testimony, ask for prayer, etc. So, not only is the main teacher (preacher) changing from week to week, but there are also several people speaking during each meeting. Although several people speak, they always take turns so as not to be disorderly.
We’ve also changed the way we sing together. Each week, instead of having the same person or people choose songs for everyone to sing, there is a different person from week to week. Sometimes, this person chooses a few songs. Usually, there is also opportunity for anyone to choose a song for the church to sing. Also, anyone is allowed to take part by playing an instrument if they want to.
Another change that we’ve made is in the way we arrange our chairs. (Yes, this would be difficult for those with pews.) We typically arrange our chairs in consecutive circles. (If there is a presentation – slideshow, etc. – then we set the chairs up in a horseshoe pattern.) This arrangement allows much more interaction than is possible in rows of chairs. We’ve also found that we no longer need our sound system, since people are facing one another.
Finally, we eat together almost every Sunday. Usually, this is an informal meal. People bring food (or go to fast food restaurants to pick up food) for themselves. Occasionally, a few families will get together and decide to fix food together. For example, a few weeks ago, three families decided to fix soup. They emailed everyone and invited the church to join them.
All of these changes were not made for the sake of changing. Also, the changes were not forced on the church from the elders. Instead, the changes were made as the church recognized that something was hindering their meeting together.