Occasionally, I like to share examples of how we meet together as a church. Why? Because that’s the number one question that I’m asked by people who meet me and find out that our church is a hybrid – somewhere between an organic church and an institutional church. While most of our life together is organic and relational, many aspects of our weekly meeting (not other meetings) are carryovers from our more traditional beginnings.
By the way, this is “Part 1″ because next Sunday we will be meeting together in a completely different way. I’ll tell you about that meeting next week in “Part 2.”
We have decided to rent a small store front to meet in on Sundays and for other uses throughout the week, and we have decided to start meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays (except when we go to the beach or park or somewhere else together). So, a little before 10:30 people start arriving. As they arrive, some start setting up chairs, while others chat with one another or pass out hymnals, song sheets, etc. This Sunday, we set the chairs out in two concentric circles.
As people arrive, most of them bring food, because they know that we are planning to eat together. How do they know? Because we do this every week. Sometimes we plan bigger meals (like we did last Sunday), or sometimes people just bring sandwiches, soups, or whatever. Most people bring enough to share so that we can invite others to join us even if they didn’t bring food.
Around 10:30 – the exact time is not as important to us – everyone begins finding a seat, and someone “kicks off” our meeting. Since I was planning to facilitate our teaching last Sunday, I started our meeting off by asking people if they had anything they wanted to share from Colossians. We have been studying Colossians for a few weeks, and several people made very good and challenging observations.
One of our brothers who plays guitar led us in a few songs. There were a couple of hymns and a couple of newer songs. In the middle of singing, we stopped to read through Colossians. We read the entire book, with different people taking turns reading different sections of the book. After reading Colossians, we sang a couple more songs.
We had scheduled to study Colossians 3:5-4:6. So, I started the teaching time by doing a brief review of the first part of Colossians that we had already discussed in previous weeks. Then, another brother taught for a few minutes on the first part of our passage for the week. I continued the teaching, asking for and receiving input from the church. We took the passage paragraph by paragraph, and often returned to previous sections of the book or other parts of Scripture to help us all understand something. (By the way, I was not the only one referring to other parts of Colossians or Scripture.)
Once I had completed what I wanted to teach, the church continued discussing the passage. Many times, people would talk about specific applications to their own lives, or they would make a connection to something that had already been said.
As is usually the case, the discussion of Scripture resulted in people asking the church to pray for them about certain things. We would stop then and pray. We spent alot of time asking for prayer and praying for people.
By this time, it was about 12:30, so we started moving the chairs around and setting up tables. We have several round tables and a few rectangular ones. Once the tables were set up, we broke a loaf of bread and shared the cup (actually several cups). We talked about how Jesus Christ died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins and to invite us into the new covenant with God.
Once we shared the bread and the cup, we continued meeting around the tables while we ate lunch together. This time of food and fellowship and encouragement lasted until about 2:30 or so when people started cleaning up, clearing the room, and heading home.
(By the way, that wasn’t the end of our time together for most of us. Many people continued to spend time with one another during the day. For example, my daughter and I joined other families and friends at a local park for a game of kickball.)
If you have any questions or comments about our meeting, I’ll be more than happy to answer or respond. We’re always open to learning and growing and trying new ways to meet together. Like I said, next Sunday we will meet together in a completely different way. You can read about that meeting next week.