Do church meetings matter? (Spirit-led lives matter.)

church meetings that matter

Do church meetings matter? The Dones say they don’t. So do the faithful bored. What about you?

While talking a walk in Glascow, Kentucky (a town I don’t know) on 9/4/2015, I came across a Salvation Army Thrift Store and went through the door. There I found a book, Church Meetings That Matter, published in 1965. The first line reads: “I’m tired of going to church meetings that really don’t matter.” (Pretty up to date, isn’t it?) Here are more words from that book:

“Three hundred years ago in England a minister by the name of Richard Baxter made a disturbing discovery. For twenty years he had preached, twice on Sundays and once during the week; but he was not satisfied with the religious life of the congregation. So one day he began calling in the homes. He was appalled by how little his members had actually learned about the Christian faith after all those years of preaching.”

“The meeting is impoverished and falls short of its transforming possibilities if at some point the members do not say, ‘Now this is my witness about God and my neighbor. In day-to-day life this is how it is with my soul, my heart, and my mind.’ Impersonal content alone in our meetings cannot contribute to an increase of the love of God and the love of neighbor. Such increase comes through personal response.”

“A meeting needs both ‘knowledge about’ and ‘experience of’ the Christian faith . . . Too many Christians know all about Christianity but they have no experience of being a Christian.”

“Church meetings must provide for all who participate in the church’s life opportunities for reconciliation, forgiveness, and belonging.”

“In the church, persons are to be known as they really are, participating in a community of honesty, integrity, trust, forgiveness, reconciliation, and mercy. Such community is the experience recorded in the Bible.”

“Church meetings are strong and resourceful, lively and interesting, and rewarding to all members to the extent that each member is a responsible participant.”

“Leading a group in such a way as to engage the members in responsible participation requires more of a leader than does getting through an agenda on time. It is often easier for the leader to do it all himself. However, the leader who understands and is convinced about the priesthood of all believers will not try to run a meeting by himself.”

“The servant leader demonstrates his commitment to a shared ministry. The crucial person in this radical rediscovery of shared ministry is the person presently designated as the leader. Only as he is convinced that he wants to share responsibility will he began to act in the group in ways that will enable the members to be responsible. He expects the members to take their rightful responsibility. He knows that a shared ministry will not be accomplished overnight. But he knows the direction in which he feels impelled to move.”

Christians in churches “are deprived of their witness to each other and of the support of each other. Even worse, the strong directive leaders become the ‘religious professionals’ who act for the others, the ‘experts’ in the field of religion. Since no expert can make another’s decisions in matters involving the love of God and the love of neighbor, here too the people have been cheated.”

The author, Philip A. Anderson, gives several keys to church meetings that matter:

  • “Responsible participation was present. We were sensitive to the needs of our group. Everyone was ‘on the inside’ participating.”
  • “Leadership was shared among the members according to their abilities and insights.”
  • “Communication of ideas was good. We listened and understood one another’s ideas. Ideas were vigorously presented and acknowledged.”
  • “Communication of feelings was good. We listened and understood and recognized feelings. Feelings were shared and accepted.”
  • “Authenticity was present. We were revealing our honest selves. we were engaged in authentic self-revelation.”
  • “Acceptance of persons was an active part of our give-and-take. We ‘received one another in Christ,’ recognizing and respecting the uniqueness of each person.”
  • “Freedom of persons was enhanced and encouraged. The creativity and individuality of persons was respected.”
  • Climate of relationship was one of mutual trust in which evidence of love for one another was apparent. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed.”

I’ve written about meetings like this for years now. My wife and I have led one for 8 years at The Salvation Army, 225 Berry St., Nashville, 37207 on Sundays at 10:45 am.  Come see.

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About Steve Simms

I like to look and think outside the box. I have written two books: Mindrobics: How To Be Happy For The Rest Of Your Life and Your Sperm Won--Experiencing Your Value As A Championship Human Being. In college I encountered Jesus Christ and I have been passionate about trying to get to know Him better ever since. My wife and I lead a non-traditional church in Nashville based on open participation and Spirit-led sharing. We long to see the power and passion of the early church come to life in our time.
This entry was posted in Christianity, effective meetings, Kentucky, organic church, Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, Thrift Store, what matters and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Do church meetings matter? (Spirit-led lives matter.)

  1. Excellent!!!
    Sharing right away.

  2. Keep up the good work, working on having this kind of fellowship in St. Augustine Florida, people are not use to this whole concept. I am finding that all too often in churches they have become so use to just coming, sitting in the pew, and hearing a sermon when we open things up more and try interact they feel out of place a little. Sometime people don’t even know how to interact. Pray for us. Praying for you and your ministry, what a blessing these blogs are and on FB.

    • Steve Simms says:

      Thanks, Tom. It takes patience. However, people will speak if we give them the opportunity.

      • Amen, and in our Sunday Night meetings they seem more open to the Ekklesia. Pray for the Saint Augustine Corps my new friend as i am praying for you and your ministry and Corps. ~i noticed a pic. of you and Major Ed Lee, he and i were VERY close in training 1990-1992.

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