So what does the gathering look like? (Part 4)


Here’s the fourth in our series of meeting templates that seek to tease what a Christian gathering might look like if it was based on the Bible’s theology of Christian assembly. (See part 1 for a summary.)

Today’s pattern of meeting (which I very unimaginatively call ‘The two-parter’) is especially suitable when the passage/sermon raises a ‘big issue’, either doctrinally (e.g. predestination) or ethically (e.g. euthanasia, work, raising children). Or it could be just a tough passage that requires a bit of extra background and thinking to wrap our minds around. The basic idea is to divide the sermon or teaching content in half to allow extra time either for sketching in background or for teasing out implications. Perhaps Part 1 might cover some essential Old Testament background, while Part 2 focuses on the passage itself. Or Part 1 might involve the exposition of the passage or topic, and Part 2, a more extensive discussion of its practical implications.

Template 4: The Two-Parter

9:27 am Welcome, please take your seats, we’re about to start.
9:30 Opening song—something joyful, strong, up-tempo.
9:33 Introduction: What this morning is about, why we’re here.
9:35 Confession/approach: Can be lead by leader, congregation member, or said jointly; can start with a short reading to remind us of God’s holiness, our sinfulness, and our need to repent (e.g. Ps 51, 130, 95 could be read or said together); finish with a message of gospel assurance.
9:39 Bible readings.
9:45 Sermon/input Part 1 (20 minutes): This might be from a different speaker or a special feature; or it might be essential background to main passage. It also might be an extended 14:26 element—an in-depth discussion with two or more people about what they have recently learned and would like to share, for example.
10:05 Break: Take a 5-10-minute break with muffins/coffee available; discuss the issue raised in the first talk; pose an open-ended interesting question for the congregation to discuss (perhaps relating to the practical challenge of the passage).
10:12 Announcements and family news.
10:17 Song—quieter, leading in to listening to the word.
10:20 Sermon/input Part 2: Main passage, or exploration of practical implications, or even a discussion forum (two or three) on the topic with questions from the floor.
10:40 Prayer in response.
10:47 Song (reflecting main theme if possible).
10:50 Round-up and morning tea.

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

  1. I have attended a couple of services like this.  Some like it (in fact both churches practising this style had great growth), myself, and family.. didn’t spin our dials… I prefer something compressed and direct.  I prefer that folk hang around for 30 minutes to an hour to chat afterwards over cofffee.

  2. Hi Steve, Tony,

    Steve – you raise an interesting point of the hang around / chat time afterwards. I reckon this is a critical part of what we do at church, and what we do in the meeting is essential for setting up that time. We can pose questions to be discussed later, preach a ‘provocative’ sermon etc. But perhaps most importantly, we need to make sure that the last thing we say / do doesn’t ‘kick people out’, but rather encourages them to stay – inside in the building or somewhere else – depending on where the best space is.

  3. My observation is that dividing a sermon in two never results in the same amount of time… sermons – even short ones – seem to need a ‘wind-up’ and ‘wind-down’ and preachers as a race are really quite ill-disciplined. I always groan when I see that there is a divided sermon!

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