Most of our Assemblies complain of the lack of interest manifested at our mid-week meetings. Unless a visiting speaker or a missionary home on furlough with slides is expected, the attendance is usually about 30 per cent of those in fellowship. Rarely do such meetings attract Christians from other fellowships.
Elders are keenly aware of this problem and are deeply exercised as to its cause and remedy. Often, the course of action adopted is both unwise and unfortunate. Scolding ministry of a doubtful spiritual tone is certainly not adequate. A recalling of past days when things were allegedly so different fails to stimulate assembly interest.
Many of our mid-week ministry meetings take the form of verse by verse analysis of selected portions of Scripture. The usual pattern is for a designated brother to open the portion and for others to join in and contribute. This type of meeting can be extremely helpful if spiritually conducted by brethren with a keen sense of the needs of those present, but alas in so many assemblies such is not the case.
From long experience in another method of conducting the mid-week meeting, we make the following suggestions which if properly planned and prayerfully executed will do much to make our mid-week meetings both relevant and meaningful. It would further produce an exercise on the part of younger brethren which will be a real source of encouragement to the assembly.
Elders should make a list of about 20 subjects on a paper and have it placed on the assembly bulletin board with a place for brethren who are interested to sign their names beside the subject of their choice. Each brother then prepares a paper based upon the subject he selected for presentation at a particular meeting. This paper is limited to 15 or 20 minutes of reading time. Generally, six or seven typewritten pages, double-spaced, is sufficient.
After the paper is read, a responsible brother in the assembly serves as a moderator and distributes among capable men the written questions that have been submitted. Each brother is allowed approximately three minutes to answer a question or discuss a point raised in the paper. This serves to promote a wide and orderly discussion of the material and promotes an active interest among all the brethren.
The following might serve as a suggested list of subjects for those who are interested: The Holy Spirit, The Virgin Birth, Prayer, Assembly Principles, Inspiration of the Bible, Divine Revelation, The Rapture of the Church, The Lord’s Supper, etc.
The time spent by the brethren in preparation and the Bible study involved is stimulating and rewarding. The experience of reducing ones thoughts to writing is an exercise which gives depth and vision not easily obtained in any other way. The material presented in many instances is so well documented from Scripture that it provides an excellent grounding in basic Christian doctrine.
The time element is very important; in an assembly having one meeting per week, the following schedule has proven adequate: 7:45 to 8:15 prayer — 8:15 to 8:30 reading of the paper — 8:30 to 9:15 questions and discussion.
Such a meeting as this with such variations as each assembly may find convenient will prove to be of so much interest as to greatly expand our mid-week meeting. It will produce a spiritual impact of a very definite character upon all who attend.
This has been used for some time in a large eastern assembly and has been found very helpful, and the practical effects have been noted in the attendance and interest.