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R e v i t a l i s e t h e c h u r c h
Mid-week evening Bible study groups operate under too much time pressure...
By Andrew Mackinnon
Everybody knows that the time available for holding a Bible study group during the evening in the middle of the week from Monday to Friday is very limited and under severe pressure. Many people finish work at 17:00 or 17:30 and can’t comfortably make it to their Bible study group in the evening during the week until about 19:45 at the earliest, after having been very busy exerting themselves all day at work. Even then, there’s an enormous rush involved in travelling home until about 18:15, preparing something to eat for dinner, eating dinner and washing up. Typically, these church members wouldn’t get into their motor vehicle to drive to Bible study group until 19:30, at which time they would rush in their vehicle to try to appear by 19:45. So having worked all day, they’re put in a position at the end of a busy day whereby they need to rush frantically in order appear at Bible study group by a reasonable time.
Often their day has started as early as 5:00 when they wake up, so they’re not in an ideal state at the end of a working day to participate actively in the highly-nourishing, multilateral communication between church members that occurs in a Bible study group. This means that church members participating in Bible study groups held during the week in the evenings in church members’ homes don’t receive the maximum possible benefits and advantages of these groups.
Not only is there immense time pressure on church members in the two to three hours prior to them eventually making it to the Bible study group in the evening in the middle of the week, but there is also immense time pressure on them once the clock strikes 21:00 after 75 minutes (i.e. 1.25 hours) of the Bible study group has elapsed. Typically what happens is that everybody is so thrilled to see each other that the group continues until 21:15 or 21:30 as people in the group catch up with each other after the structured part of the Bible study group draws to a close. People in the group understandably love to hang around and talk to each other after this part of the Bible study has ended. This means that many people don’t leave the Bible study group until 21:30, typically by tearing themselves away, so much do they enjoy the company of the other people in the group.
When they do eventually get into their motor vehicles again to drive back home, they typically rush because they know that as the night wears on, the time remaining for them to sleep and recharge their batteries for the next day’s activities, such as employment, college lectures of university lectures, is rapidly evaporating. What typically happens is that the next day, they decide to wake up a bit later than they’d normally like to, in order to try to get adequate sleep, so that they’re then forced to rush through their morning preparation in order to get to their place of employment or to college or to university or to wherever they need to be. If their Bible study group takes place on a Wednesday evening, this rushing often has a knock-on effect that negatively impacts the rest of their working week on Thursday and Friday.
Church members have historically viewed this squeeze on their time that occurs in the middle of the week, as they strenuously make the effort required to attend their weekly, mid-week, evening Bible study group, as part of the sacrifice that is required to enjoy fellowship with other believers in their church. While this is actually quite noble, the vicious weekly cycle of rushing, caused by the placement of Bible study groups in the middle of the week in the evening, has had a substantively negative influence on the health of the church of Jesus Christ in the western world over the past two decades at least. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Saturday is the Sabbath day of rest according to Exodus 20:8-11, spoken by God Himself, as indicated by Exodus 20:1. By transferring these Bible study groups to the second half of the church services on Sunday, the day after the Sabbath day of rest of Saturday, church members can arrive at church on Sunday in an unhurried, unrushed manner, having enjoyed the Sabbath day of rest on Saturday, which is the last day of the week, the day before. Church members are therefore able to participate in these Bible study groups in the second half of the church services on Sunday in a fully-prepared, fully-relaxed, fully-energised, fully-aware and fully-attentive manner.
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