In a recent post on ‘Why we gather’, I suggested that there were three basic purposes for the Christian assembly: as testimony to Christ, for fellowship in Christ, and to build towards maturity in Christ. Or if you wanted a more catchy one-sentence summary, you could say that in our gatherings, we meet with Christ in each other’s presence as a testimony to the world and as a spur to godly living.
Now before you even think of quibbling with this definition, or asking how the ‘W’ word relates to it, that’s not the purpose of this post! Instead, I’d like to share a few examples of how a Sunday gathering might be structured if these were its theologically driven purposes. In this post (and over the next several), I’ll be sharing five ‘standard meeting templates’ that I’ve been working on and trialling over the past few years. Each one has a theological movement or trajectory to it, and they also strive to connect the various elements in a way that flows and makes sense.
I’m interested in your comments and feedback—especially if you are bold enough to give some of them a fly and see how they go!
Template 1: The standard meeting
This is a bread and butter meeting where everything is pretty straightforward. It assumes (as do all those that follow) a meeting that runs from 9:30 am ’til 10:45 am.
|9:27||Welcome! Please find your seats; we’re about to start.|
|9:30||Introduction: What this morning is about, why we’re here, an opening prayer.|
|9:33||Confession/approach: This can be lead by leader, congregation member, or said jointly1; it can start with a short reading to remind us of God’s holiness, our sinfulness, and our need to repent (e.g. Ps 51, Ps 130 or Ps 95 could be read or said together); it finishes with a gospel assurance.|
|9:37||Song of joy: Following on from confession—joyful, about sins forgiven or about the character and deeds of God in Christ.|
|9:40||Bible readings—one each from Old Testament and New Testament, with brief introduction/explanation as necessary.|
|9:46||Response to readings: Say a creed or psalm, or sing a song of dedication/exhortation.|
|9:50||Sermon + question time.|
|10:20||14:262 time: testimony, book review, small group discussion/feedback on a topic, song item, extended question time, a word of exhortation or encouragement. Much of this might fall under what the New Testament calls ‘prophecy’. (What it’s not: an interview or ad, plugging a church or ministry event)|
|10:28||Intercessions and thanksgiving.|
|10:37||Announcements and family news.|
|10:42||Final song—connected if possible to main theme of sermon.|
|10:45||Round-up and morning tea: Seat people after the song; bring their minds back to what we’ve learned as a lead-in to conversation at morning tea.|
You are the true and living God,
The Most High, the Holy One.
Heaven is your throne,
and earth your footstool.
You are robed in power,
crowned in honour,
and righteousness is the sceptre of your kingdom.
Yet we have rebelled against you,
and fallen far short of your glory.
We have not loved you with our whole heart,
nor loved our neighbours as ourselves.
We deserve your punishment.
give us not what we deserve,
but what you promise to all who turn to you in trust—
complete forgiveness through your Son, Jesus Christ,
who died in our place, as a sacrifice for sins.
In your unfailing love,
wash us clean in his blood,
clothe us with his righteousness
and put your praises on our lips every day. Amen.
2 As in 1 Corinthians 14:26: “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” It’s an opportunity for members to bring encouragement and exhortation to the congregation in different ways.