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R e v i t a l i s e t h e c h u r c h
Format of the Sunday church service – 9:00 to 12:00...
By Andrew Mackinnon
The church service on Sunday morning starting at 9:00 is geared towards families with children aged 0 to 11 years at the start of the calendar year. This service is designed with the intention that children aged 0 to 11 years attend the church service with their parents for the first 20 minutes, before departing to Creche and Sunday school.
I believe that it is very important for the unity of the Body of Christ, for the unity of families and for the spiritual development of the children that the children are in attendance at this church service for the first 20 minutes with their parents to worship, to listen to the Bible readings and to the prayer, before later departing to Creche and Sunday school. Children attending Sunday school whose parents don’t attend church can sit with their Sunday school friends and the parents of those friends in this first 20 minutes of the church service.
Whilst the Bible readings from the Old Testament and the New Testament in the first 20 minutes of the church service will most likely not be relevant to what the children will be taught in Sunday school that day, these Bible readings lasting only 6 minutes give families an important opportunity to listen to God’s word being read together. Children can only benefit from listening to God’s word being read, whether they are old enough to understand it or not.
Only the Bible study groups that can’t fit at church are held off-site.
Sixteen comfortable, stackable seats identical to those used in church are assigned by the church to the owner of each off-site Bible study group location in order to facilitate the orderly gathering of the Bible study groups off-site. The reason that the number of seats assigned to each off-site location is sixteen and not fourteen is that two extra seats are assigned in order to accommodate newcomers to each Bible study group. These sixteen seats should ideally be delivered by the church and eventually picked up by the church using an appropriate church-owned motor vehicle such as a van.
[Start of the entire church service of 3.000 hours (180 minutes) in length]
[Start of the first part of the church service of 1 hour (60 minutes) in length]
> A - Short welcome
1 minute – 9:00 to 9:01 - Entire cumulative 1 minute
> B – Worship
3 minutes – 9:01 to 9:04 - Entire cumulative 4 minutes
> C - Further welcome and announcements
3 minutes – 9:04 to 9:07 - Entire cumulative 7 minutes
> D - Old Testament reading from the King James Version of the Bible
3 minutes – 9:07 to 9:10 - Entire cumulative 10 minutes
> E - New Testament reading from the King James Version of the Bible
3 minutes – 9:10 to 9:13 - Entire cumulative 13 minutes
> F – Prayer
3 minutes – 9:13 to 9:16 - Entire cumulative 16 minutes
> G - Reserved space for any presentation, such as geared towards families with children aged 0 to 11 years at the start of the calendar year
4 minutes – 9:16 to 9:20 - Entire cumulative 20 minutes
> H - Interlude for children to depart to Creche and Sunday school and for people to greet each other
3 minutes – 9:20 to 9:23 - Entire cumulative 23 minutes
> I - Worship and offering
3 minutes – 9:23 to 9:26 - Entire cumulative 26 minutes
> J – Preaching
30 minutes – 9:26 to 9:56 - Entire cumulative 56 minutes
> K – Worship
3 minutes – 9:56 to 9:59 - Entire cumulative 59 minutes
> L - Short conclusion
1 minute – 9:59 to 10:00 - Entire cumulative 60 minutes
[End of the first part of the church service of 1 hour (60 minutes) in length]
[Start of the second part of the church service of 0.5 hours (30 minutes) in length]
> M – Interlude for people to socialise with each other
15 minutes – 10:00 to 10:15 - Entire cumulative 75 minutes
> N – Interlude for people to socialise with each other and for those attending off-site Bible study groups to travel to their off-site location
15 minutes – 10:15 to 10:30 - Entire cumulative 90 minutes
[End of the second part of the church service of 0.5 hours (30 minutes) in length]
[Start of the third part of the church service of 1.5 hours (90 minutes) in length]
> O - Interlude for people to rearrange the seats from a format of rows into a format of circles of fourteen seats each in preparation for the on-site Bible study groups
7.5 minutes – 10:30 to 10:37:30 - Entire cumulative 97.5 minutes
[Start of the Bible study groups of 1.25 hours (75 minutes) in length]
> P - Time at the start of the Bible study groups for members in each group to greet each other and socialise with each other
2.5 minutes – 10:37:30 to 10:40 - Entire cumulative 100 minutes
> Q - Bible study with the freedom and opportunity to discuss everything that is directly and indirectly relevant to what is being studied
60 minutes – 10:40 to 11:40 - Entire cumulative 160 minutes
> R - Bible study group members break up into same-gender pairs, share points for prayer if they want to and pray for each other
5 minutes – 11:40 to 11:45 - Entire cumulative 165 minutes
> S - Closing prayer by anybody in the Bible study group who wants to contribute
5 minutes – 11:45 to 11:50 - Entire cumulative 172.5 minutes
> T - Announcements by the male Bible study group leader and the female Bible study group co-leader
2.5 minutes – 11:50 to 11:52:30 - Entire cumulative 167.5 minutes
[End of the Bible study groups of 1.25 hours (75 minutes) in length]
> U - Interlude for people to rearrange the seats from a format of circles of fourteen seats each for the on-site Bible study groups into a format of rows in preparation for the next church service
7.5 minutes – 11:52:30 to 12:00 - Entire cumulative 180 minutes
[End of the third part of the church service of 1.5 hours (90 minutes) in length]
[End of the entire church service of 3.00 hours (180 minutes) in length]
C - This segment can be confined to just 3 minutes by referring attendees to an announcements board at the back of the main church building which they can consult at the end of the 3 hour church service. This same physical announcements board can be replicated electronically on the church’s website so that it can be easily consulted online by attendees during the week also.
D, E - Under no circumstances should churches of Jesus Christ be using the deliberately inaccurate New International Version (NIV), published by Zondervan, which is owned by HarperCollins, which, in turn, is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (formerly News Corporation). Eugene Peterson's "The Message" is an occult translation of the Bible. The New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible is also deliberately inaccurate. The best translation of the Bible to use is the highly accurate King James Version (KJV).
M, N – The preacher makes himself available during this 30 minute interlude for people to ask him questions about the material he preached, or anything else, or enter into discussion with him about the material he preached, or anything else.
N - People whose Bible study groups are held off-site need to depart for their group after 15 minutes of this 30 minute interlude has elapsed, so that they will have time to return to church to be present to pick up their children from Sunday school when it ends, if necessary.
By leaving church while there is still 15 minutes of the interlude remaining, people whose Bible study groups are held off-site are able to arrive at the location of these groups by the time this interlude ends. While those at back church are rearranging the seats from a format of rows into a format of circles in preparation for the Bible study groups, the Bible study groups held off-site can start right away. By avoiding the need to spend 7.5 minutes before the group and 7.5 minutes after the group rearranging the seats, the Bible study groups held off-site will finish with 15 minutes spare so that the attendees can travel back to church and pick up their children from Sunday school if necessary.
Bible study groups containing parents whose children attend Creche or Sunday school should be preferentially held on-site so that parents are not removed from the proximity of their children. Only after there is no more room available for on-site Bible study groups containing parents of children attending Creche or Sunday school should Bible study groups containing these parents be held off-site. Creche supervisors and Sunday school leaders should have a list of mobile phone numbers for the father and mother of every child attending Creche or Sunday school so that parents who end up attending Bible study groups off-site can be notified of any emergency involving their children at Creche or Sunday school.
Q - Assuming that there are fourteen people in the Bible study group altogether, assuming that the male leader of the Bible study group talks four times (?) as much as the other members of the group and assuming that the female co-leader of the Bible study group talks four times (?) as much as the other members of the group, the following equation can be used to calculate the average amount of time in minutes available to the remaining twelve members of the group to speak during the Bible study, where x represents this average amount of time in minutes:
4x + 4x + 12x = 60
20x = 60
x = 3
It is critically important that the Bible study go for a full 60 minutes so that each member of the Bible study group has the opportunity to contribute for a full 3 minutes each.
A Bible study which only goes for 45 minutes only gives each of the members in the group 2.25 minutes to contribute. Given that the multilateral communication that occurs in Bible study groups is highly nourishing for followers of Jesus Christ and highly conducive to their spiritual and relational growth, it is highly advantageous that the Bible study go for a full 60 minutes. This is the same duration of a typical, mid-week, evening Bible study. In moving the Bible study groups from their historical, mid-week, evening location to the second part of the church service on Sunday, it obviously makes logical sense that the length of the Bible study is not shortened in any way. The whole point of moving the Bible study groups to the second part of the church service on Sunday is to improve them by removing the time pressure under which they operate in the evening in the middle of the week. To shorten the Bible study, in the process of moving it to the second part of the church service on Sunday, would significantly nullify the benefits gained from this move.
The Bible study must go for a full 60 minutes. The only way this is possible in a church service that lasts 3 hours in total is to run the first congregational part of the church service very lean so that it only lasts 1 hour. However, it is imperative that the preacher be allowed a full 30 minutes in which to preach. While I strongly believe that Bible study groups are highly conducive to the growth of followers of Jesus Christ and to the growth of the church of Jesus Christ, I am not the slightest bit interested in diminishing the significance of preaching in the Sunday church service. I believe that both preaching and Bible study groups have an important role to play in the growth of followers of Jesus Christ and in the growth of the church of Jesus Christ.
R – It’s very important to note that the purpose of these pairings is not to make it compulsory for any member of the Bible study to share anything about their life. I strongly believe that Bible study members rightly react strongly against any mandatory sharing by sharing very little. I strongly believe that it is highly inappropriate to mandate that Bible study members share prayer points about their lives.
At the same time, I strongly believe that it is important to provide an opportunity for the Bible study group members to share prayer points about their lives if they want to. It’s important that there’s also an opportunity within the Bible study group for the members to pray for each other’s welfare.
It would probably be advantageous if these same-gender pairs were kept the same for the maximum possible number of consecutive weeks, so that the members in these pairs can get to know each other and see how their prayers for each other are being answered.
In a Bible study group of fourteen members, there will be seven males and seven females, including a male leader and a female co-leader. This means that each female can pray in pairs with six other females and each male can pray in pairs with six other males. However, since there is an odd number of females and males in the Bible study group, the pairings will result in one female and one male being left out. Therefore, there will have to be a pairing of three females and three females each week.
This means that there will be five, not six, different pairings that each of the females and the males can form, with one of these being three females and three males. Assuming that the Bible study group is held for forty-five (45) weeks of the entire year, each pairing for the purpose of praying for each other should be maintained for nine (9) consecutive weeks so that members in these pairs can get to know each other and see how their prayers for each other are being answered from week to week.
The following table shows the week numbers in the left-most column and the pairings of seven females named 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or seven males named 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7:
Note that this table has five rows, which means that each female or male can form five different pairings with the other females or males respectively, with one of these being three females or three males. Note that it is always female 7 or male 7 who ends up in a ‘pairing’ of three. Male 7 is the leader of the Bible study group and female 7 is the co-leader of the Bible study. This is the way in which I’ve compiled the table below for the sake of simplicity.
This table is more simply expressed in the following form:
The easiest way to form these pairings in a circle of fourteen seats is for everybody to stand up and change seats so that the ‘pairing’ of three males sits next to the ‘pairing’ of three females. The remaining pairings of males and females can sit down next to them so that all of the males are sitting on one side of the circle and all of the females are sitting on the other side of the circle.
T – Announcements by the male Bible study group leader and the female Bible study group co-leader might relate to what the group is going to be studying the next Sunday in the Bible study group or plans for social activities.
U - After the on-site Bible study groups have finished, it’s the responsibility of every able-bodied person to change the format of circles of fourteen seats each to the format of rows in preparation for the beginning of the next church service. There should be a team of people who are responsible for supervising this formation of rows of chairs at the end of the on-site Bible study groups, so as to assist the attendees in forming the rows as neatly as possible. This task shouldn’t be too onerous and this team of people can obviously enjoy talking to each other and to the other attendees while they’re doing this.
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