Pastoral Structures in the Church

Discussion in 'Meditating on the Preached Word' started by Ben Chomp, Jun 11, 2019.

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  1. Ben Chomp

    Ben Chomp Puritan Board Freshman

    Our church struggles every year to figure out effective and fruitful pastoral structures. We've got Lord's Day worship and Sunday school, but beyond this we've experimented with mid-week bible studies, small groups, smaller groups, and various other things in between.

    Aside from Sunday worship and Christian education (Sunday school, etc), what structures have you found to be helpful for your people or in your own life?
  2. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    I’ve participated in mid-week Bible studies at the church, which are attended by as many as are willing/able, and lead by the eldership. I found them to be sometimes very useful, and sometimes not, depending on if the discussion got off topic or not.

    Also, I’ve been a part of a men’s group that goes through a particular book. For example, Samuel Waldron’s Exposition of the 1689. The accountability is nice, but I found it too much when coupled with other mid-week activities.

    As a general rule, I believe that the more a person puts into it, the better the fruit will be. There’s a big difference between having prepared yourself for the upcoming week, versus merely showing up to listen.

    Also, I know of a church that is now using Wednesday evenings to dive deeper into the previous Lord’s Day sermon, and then to spend time in corporate prayer. That sounds very good to me.

    I sometimes think about how I’d like to see changes with how my church does things, whether it be different mid-week activities or adding an evening service on the Lord’s Day; but, if I’m honest, I’m not taking full advantage of what is offered at the moment.

    Rather than changing things or adding things, I’m sure we would all benefit if we first focused on doing less, better.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
  3. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Evangelistic activities led by the pastors outside of the church make for a good opportunity for interested church members to begin to see evangelism modeled and to take part in it. Visits to the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic together, passing out tracts at an appropriate venue, a question or prayer booth at a local fair, a campus ministry outreach, prison or elderly care center...these can all be places where the pastors lead and prepare others for ministry.
  4. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    Although there are good things that Christians can do, they often neglect the most important things. Going outside of planned parenthood or passing out tracts are commendable things, but many will forget the most basic of things that truly effect the soul of the individual and his family: daily meditation upon the Lord AND daily family worship.

    I find that people seem restless because they want to be apart of something “exciting”. Why do we always hear about this or that event being the next big crisis, yet we never hear of what is truly a big crisis: the neglect of daily family worship and daily meditation.

    I suppose those things just don’t seem all that exciting to many in the church.
  5. Ben Chomp

    Ben Chomp Puritan Board Freshman

    Amen. I'm all for doing less, better.

    In my experience, after your Sunday activities, you can usually ask people to do one more thing regularly - whether that be a Bible study, small group, or whatever.
  6. Ben Chomp

    Ben Chomp Puritan Board Freshman

    So would this be to say that the church should not do any mid week activities in order to make room for daily private and family worship?
  7. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Do you have a second service on the Lord's Day? Because that if not that is the thing that might be far and away more useful and, perhaps, needful, than many of the other things you are contemplating. Those church members who make the greatest use of the Lord's Day, and especially public worship, are those who reap the greatest benefit. When we moved last year, finding a confessional church and hopefully one with two services was a substantial factor in determining where we landed because we find it so beneficial and it suggests a church takes their commitment to the public means of grace very seriously.

    Otherwise, mid-week bible studies/book studies are useful but, in my opinion, ought to be led by an ordained elder. Nourishing the flock ought not to be delegated to the flock itself (as in most evangelical small group models) if growth is to be expected. Lay groups are nice social occasions but almost never, in my experience, is a serious effort to grow in grace and knowledge sustained over the long term in them.

    A mid-week prayer meeting with a shorter, perhaps catechetical, sermon, is a great thing to offer that many Presbyterian churches of the past did and some more historically-minded churches of the present still do.
  8. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    I've come to believe that small groups generally are not the best way to give church members good teaching. This is because most churches don't have enough highly qualified teachers available to fill all their small groups, which means groups end up being led by weak teachers. Sometimes, a very good book or study guide can take the place of a group leader, but usually the teaching is only as good as the teacher. So it's a mistake to first decide on a structure (like small groups) and then recruit/assign teachers to fit the structure.

    The better method is to first decide who is truly fit to teach. Who is trained, called, and capable enough that even you, the pastor, would be eager to learn from their teaching? However many of those guys you have are your teachers. Now come up with a structure that best uses their availability, interests, and styles.

    You might still end up with some small groups that emphasize teaching. But often, small groups work better for building fellowship than they do for teaching.
  9. rookie

    rookie Puritan Board Sophomore

    I have 2 examples on why too many meetings in the week is not always beneficial.
    1. A very close brother of mine, from a previous church, was busy 5 nights a week with something, either bible study at church, prayer meeting, bible study at another brother's house, the list goes on. And the 1 night he didn't have anything (out of the 5), he was out handing gospel tracts. He was closing in on a burnout.

    While he enjoyed most of those activities, his wife, didn't. He finally noticed, and cut out all but 1 night a week, and they both go to a fantastic bible study.

    2. When you have too many activities, first you're not going to get the crowd/audience you need. And you're going to run out of qualified leaders for those activities. Even the church I am going to, the men's study group, was going through some weak theology. A certain topic came up, and there were 2 deacons that were wishy washy on the subject matter. Myself, being only 6 months in this church, and the youngest by at least 10 yrs in the group, was leading it, and I had no choice but to call out the opinions of those deacons.

    Which I'm still waiting for a meeting with the pastor, for this and a couple of other issues.
  10. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    The elders of each church would make this determination. Such a broad brush is unnecessary.

    However, the 4th Commandment says, "Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:" Midweek program can potentially interfere with keeping the 4th Commandment.
  11. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    “In order to”? I would think that family and private worship take priority over mid week activities. If one is able to balance that and a mid week activity, I don’t see a problem.
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