So what does the gathering look like? (Part 2)


We’re looking at some templates for running Christian assemblies. Here’s the second—a slight variation on the standard meeting that’s very suitable when the sermon naturally leads to confession, or when you have a wildcard or 14:26 item that you want to introduce closer to the start of the gathering. (‘14:26’ items are opportunities for congregation members to bring exhortation and encouragement to the whole gathering—as in 1 Corinthians 14:26.)

Template 2: Standard meeting variation

9:27 am Welcome (at 9:27—we’re about to start)
9:30 Introduction: What this morning is about, why we’re here, and so on. An opening prayer.
9:33 Song of joy, telling forth the great deeds and character of God
9:36 14:26: special question time, partner testimony, book review, small group discussion/feedback on a topic, baptism, kids segment, and so on. On a particularly evangelistic morning, this could be a testimony. This is exhortation/encouragement to godliness, not the promotion of an event/program.
9:44 Intercessions and thanksgiving (following on from 14:26 thematically where possible).
9:53 Song of encouragement and exhortation.
9:56 Bible readings (one each from the Old Testament and New Testament) with brief introduction/explanation as necessary.
10:01 Sermon + questions.
10:31 Confession and assurance.
10:35 Song (reflecting the main theme).
10:38 Announcements and family news (collect response slips during final announcement and round-up).
10:45 Round-up and morning tea.

4 thoughts on “So what does the gathering look like? (Part 2)

  1. You’ve still got three cards up your sleeve, so this might be covered later, but I’ll ask anyway.

    Taking the point that the sermon is more directed to confession-type applications, is there a reason why you’d hold the sermon so late in this template? Rather than having the 9.33-9.56 stuff happen in light of sermon/confession? Would you use this more often to have the particular 14:26 thing early, or because of the confession-from-sermon thing?

  2. Hi Tony

    While a question/comment time has worked well in our informal evening service, if we try it at 10am we either get dead silence or a weirdly unhelpful question or comment totally off topic and usually from the most “eccentric” member of the congregation.
    Is there a way of gently leading people in more interactive segments??

    Thanks for the templates by the way – this is a great idea.

  3. Hi Anthony.

    This template is for situations where the 14:26-type segment is not really closely related to the sermon, or where it better leads into it rather than responds to it.

    Even so, it’s pretty punchy. The preacher is on his feet 31 minutes after the start (which most preachers I think would find helpful!).

    Incidentally, the kind of questions you’re asking lead us to a key point about utilising these templates. The Bible passage and the sermon are the key factors in determining which template to use (not the only factors, but the driving ones). Which means that the preacher needs to have pretty fair idea of where he’s headed with the sermon before the meeting can be planned. This is actually where a series of templates for different kinds of sermon/teaching/passages/topics can be so handy. Given that most preachers aren’t going to be really on top of where the sermon is heading until say mid-week (at the earliest?!), you don’t then have to start from scratch to design a meeting around it.  You’ve got a shape to work with that fits the kind of morning it’s going to be. It makes pulling the meeting together more achievable, while still allowing room for creativity/flexibility.

    Of course, the ideal is to sit down and plan a month or two’s worth of meetings in advance, but this depends on the ability of the preacher to have enough work done to know what sort of theme or topic will drive each meeting.

    Dear Fred,

    Four factors affect the success of question times in the long-term (seems to me):
    1.  in the early days, ask a few key congregation members to be ready to ask a question—even a very simple one—just to get the ball rolling (the best spontaneity is always organized!)
    2.  just keep doing it each week, even if there are no questions; make it a norm.
    3.  preach sermons that provoke questions! When I preach and get no questions afterwards, it’s very often because I haven’t really stirred people to think. I haven’t upset their equilibrium in any way. My fault not theirs.
    4.  (and this is a hard one) you need to be the kind of person who can answer questions graciously and well; not everyone is gifted to do this—that’s no crime! If you’re not quick enough on your feet, employ a question box, and begin your sermon by picking up last week’s questions (which you’ve had time to think about).

    Warm regards


  4. We use question time at 10am and 6.30pm at and have found a number of benefits.

    – The preacher doesn’t have to cover everything; some things can be picked up in question time

    -It means that the preacher has to think about the tricky bits because if he doesn’t cover them properly in the talk he’ll get a question about them!

    – It allows God’s word to be applied to what is actually going on in people’s lives rather than what the preacher thinks is going on in their lives

    – First timers at church seem to love it, even though they rarely ask questions themselves.

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