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How does our church meet together (Part 2)

Posted by on Apr 12, 2011 in church life, community, edification, fellowship, gathering | 11 comments

How does our church meet together (Part 2)

Last week, I wrote “How does our church meet together (Part 1).” In that post, I described what happened when our church gathered together on Sunday, April 3, 2011. I also said that our next weekly meeting (April 10, 2011 – 2 days ago), would be somewhat different.

In this post, I’m going to describe how we met together last Sunday. We’ve met like this several times during the last year, and most people seem to enjoy it tremendously.

Again, people begin arriving just before 10:30 a.m. This time, instead of setting up our chairs in two concentric circles, we set up several tables with chairs around each table. Again, people brought food with them as they arrived.

Around 10:30, we all found seats around the table and began singing a few songs. This time, instead of someone choosing songs for us to sing, each person was given an opportunity to suggest a song for us to sing. The person would also explain why he/she wanted to sing that particular song.

After singing a couple of songs, we read through the book of Colossians again. We’ve been reading through and studying the book of Colossians together for several weeks, and this was to be our last week of studying Colossians. Different people read different parts of the book.

Then, we sang another couple of songs, and I led us through a review of what we had studied so far. This review was extremely interactive. Afterward, one our younger brothers – a 13 year old – had prepared a teaching on Colossians 4:7-18, so he led us in studying that passage as part of our ongoing study. As he stepped through the passage, other people also taught/shared from their own studies.

Next, we broke a loaf of bread and passed it around to begin our meal together. As we ate the bread together, several people “remembered” Jesus by sharing about the significance of his broken body. Then we continued the meal by eating lunch together around the tables. As we ate, each table discussed amongst themselves the significance of what we had learned from the letter to the Colossians.

After we had eaten, a few people from each table shared what they had talked about with the whole group. Then we continued encouraging one another as a group. Eventually, again, this resulted in people asking for prayer, and someone praying for them.

After praying for a while, we passed around the juice (no, we don’t use wine). As we filled our cups, different people “remembered” Jesus and the significance of the cup of the new covenant. By this time, it was about 1:30 p.m., and we had been meeting together for about 3 hours.

Even after drinking from the cup together, many people hung out for a long time. Some of us then went to a local park to play volleyball together.

While the “format” of this meeting was different from the one before, the purpose was the same. We met together to help one another grow in maturity in Jesus Christ.


11 Comments

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  1. 4-12-2011

    Alan, thanks for sharing how your fellowship meets together. I have a few questions.

    1. You noted that your meeting is a “hybrid,” which implies some organization and structure. How do you plan what the services will look like? Who does this?

    2. You stated in the post last week (I think) that Messiah Baptist Church moved to this type of arrangement. How did you “train” (for lack of a better word) people into this kind of meeting?

    3. How did this fellowship get started? What would you recommend to others who would like to start a similar fellowship in their area?

    4. Apart from the Lord’s Day meeting (which sounds wonderful), what does your fellowship do throughout the week?

    Well, that’s probably enough questions (probably too much), but inquiring minds want to know! :-)

    Peace,
    Scott

  2. 4-12-2011

    Sounds fun! And also very good to be a part of. My question is a very trivial one, for which I apologise…..why not wine? The scripture seems clear, and so many people use an alternative, but I wondered why you chose to substitute for wine…thanks

  3. 4-12-2011

    Scott,

    Thanks for the questions. I’ll try to answer as best I can.

    1) No one really plans what our meetings will look like. They still generally follow the pattern that we’re accustomed to from our backgrounds. However, things often change. Someone may offer a teaching early, or ask for a song later, or pray at any time.

    2) I didn’t train people into this type of meeting. In fact, if I did plan a meeting, it would probably look different than this one or the one I described before. For the last several years, we’ve studied Scripture together and talked with one another, and different people have made different suggestions. Sometimes those suggestions helped the way we met together, and sometimes they didn’t. But, we’ve tried many different things.

    3) We started as a more traditional church. However, from the beginning, we started spending time with one another outside of “church meetings.” We got to know one another and realized that our Sunday meeting was not helping our walk with God (individually or corporately). Things began to change gradually, but never from a top-down approach. That’s what I would recommend. Begin to get to know each other outside of meetings, and let God drive the change if any needs to occur.

    4) Wow. I couldn’t even begin to list the many ways we get together outside of the Sunday meeting. But, I guess I have to. I already mentioned in this post that we often go to parks together. A family will plan a trip to the park and invite others to join them. We’re often spending time in each other’s homes. We even do mundane things like shop together. A few families have even vacationed together. It’s about sharing life together – all of life.

    I hope this is helpful. If you have other questions, I don’t mind you asking them.

    Alan,

    Well, there are several reasons. 1) We’re in the South. 2) We come from a Baptist tradition that doesn’t use wine. 3) Some of us are associated with a school that doesn’t allow alcohol consumption. 4) We’ve come to the conclusion that the type of drink is not as important as other aspects of drinking the cup together.

    Are we right? I dunno. But, that’s where we are today.

    -Alan

  4. 4-12-2011

    I was curious about why you don’t use wine as well. All the reasons you gave were outside of Scripture. If the Scriptures say to do something, can SEBTS override that? Can Baptist tradition?

    Secondly, why the quotes around remembering? Do you think Jesus just meant to think about His crucifixion, or does remembering have a deeper meaning with regard to the Passover (and the new Passover)?

  5. 4-12-2011

    Josh,

    Good questions. I listed the reasons above, so I won’t go into them. Scripture actually says that he took a cup and told his disciples to drink in remembrance of him. We did that. (Yes, we can conclude that the cup contained wine, but Jesus did not command, “Drink wine…”) We do find in important from the Gospel accounts and from Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians 11 that both the Last Supper and later remembrances included a full meal. Do you eat a full meal with the bread and cup?

    I honestly don’t remember why I placed quotes around “remembering.” It just seemed like a strange way to use the word in those sentences, although that is what we do. I believe the “remembering” has tremendous significance and meaning because Jesus is still with us as the host of our meal.

    -Alan

  6. 4-12-2011

    If wine is simply accidental, is the full meal? The center of the Eucharist is the bread (the Gospels and Paul alike both mark off the bread from the rest of the meal), this is what Christ says is His body, this is what Paul says is His body, the bread and the cup. For Paul, there’s a definite distinction between the agape feast and the Eucharist proper. He even says as often as you eat “this bread” (τὸν ἄρτον τοῦτον) in 1 Cor 11.26, not a full meal. Indeed, it seems that the Corinthian community’s agape feast was not so agape-filled. So, we take the bread and wine in the forms Christ Himself instituted.

    My questions are: Can SEBTS override what Scripture establishes? Can Baptist tradition? How do you tell if something is accidental (the use of wine) or not?

    As far as remembering, there are two great books I think you would enjoy: Scott Hahn’s, “The Lamb’s Supper” and Brant Pitre’s most recent, “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist.” Understanding the Eucharistic meal within its 1st century Jewish context is eye-opening.

  7. 4-12-2011

    Josh,

    So, you think the wine and the meal are accidental?

    By the way, if it were completely up to me, I would choose wine. But, I’m part of a community. I do not think it is sin or dangerous to substitute another “drink of the fruit of the vine” for wine.

    However, I do think it’s dangerous to skip the meal. :)

    No, neither SEBTS nor Baptist tradition nor any other organization or leadership can override Scripture.

    Thanks for the book suggestions. I’ll add them to my list.

    -Alan

  8. 4-12-2011

    Josh,

    One more thing… in Scripture… and in other instances in the ancient world… “bread” represents a full meal.

    -Alan

  9. 4-12-2011

    I agree, the bread does represent the fullest meal. :)

    I don’t think the form of the Eucharist is accidental, no.

  10. 4-16-2011

    Alan,
    Thanks for the explanation of how you guys have done things. For those of us wanting to move into this kind of stuff, it’s helpful to see some stuff explained. Sometimes the ideas all sound great but it still comes down to “what do we DO?”

    Are you familiar with the book Total Church? What you said about the way your community spends time together throughout the week is similar to how their Gospel Communities function. We had a chance to visit their church – The Crowded House – in Sheffield UK last year and love what they’re about. Might want to check them out. Total Church is a great read.

  11. 4-16-2011

    Clay,

    Yes, I’ve read Total Church. I thought it was a great book!

    -Alan