008: Different Gatherings, Different Focuses
The apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 14:26 that when the church gathers together, everything is to be done for the strengthening of the church. They should promote growth in holiness, in love for God, each other, and those who are currently lost in their sins, as well as in sound doctrine.
When I first read The Deliberate Church by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander, one of the stand out parts of the book was the discussion about the different weekly gatherings and how can they can be used effectively to cultivate health in a local church. They suggested using different weekly gatherings for different purposes. For example, using the Adult Education Hour as the main equipping time, the Sunday Morning Service as the main feeding time, the Sunday Evening Service as the main family time of the church, the Wednesday Evening Service as the main study time, and the Members’ Meetings as the main administrative time.
At Banstead Community Church, we’ve taken their approach and adapted it for our setting with each gathering having a particular role or aim:
The Sunday Morning Service is our key weekly gathering and time of corporate worship. This is the main feeding time of the church where there is an expository sermon preached complemented by Bible readings, hymns and songs, and prayers.
The Sunday Evening Service is our main equipping time. The focus is on teaching that strengthens their convictions, character, or competences.
The Thursday Prayer Meeting is our main family time, where reports of service and evangelistic opportunities are given, ministry prayed for, along with individual needs, other local churches, and national and oversea mission (with regular mission speakers sharing about the work).
The Church Meetings (which take the place of the Thursday Prayer Meeting) are the main administrative time. This is where the vision is shared, plans and membership updates are given, elders are appointed, financial information is discussed, so that the church runs in an orderly way.
These are the primary gatherings of the church and the ones which we want all the members to attend as far as they are able to.
In addition, we also run a number of optional EQUIP groups which are less frequent (fortnightly or monthly) that are small group Bible studies for particular groups like Youth, Men, Women or with a particular focus such as Line by Line Bible Studies. The aim of these small groups is to give opportunity for those who attend to instruct one another, encourage one another, and pray for one another in light of what they’ve studied.
The hope is that these gatherings together will give the church a balanced diet which under God’s grace bring health and maturity.
(Photo: Julia Joppien)