Fellowship Meeting Guidelines

Our purpose in planning these gatherings and in sending this summary home with you is that the little meetings you attend Sunday and Wednesday could be as helpful as possible. We have appreciated the meetings in this field. Many times we have felt we have received so much when we have taken so little. There is always a possibility that our meetings could be more rich and more inspirational. This is our aim.

 

We need the meetings. The statement was made at our conventions, "Maybe we don't realize how much the little meetings have to do with our preservation. Few or maybe none could survive without the meetings except it be circumstances beyond our control that cut us off." We also heard, "How we spend the Lord's day has a lot to do with our prosperity." When you feel the effort is too great to go to meeting, think of how you would feel if you couldn't go to meeting. Week after week...and no possibility of going to meeting. May God help us to appreciate the meeting.

 

Jesus said in Matthew 24:28, "For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together." When Jesus returns, God's people will be drawn to Him as the eagles are drawn to a carcase. Each Sunday morning, God wants to draw us to the resurrected Christ. If we are faithful in being drawn each Sunday morning, we'll be, can we say, "practicing," to respond to the "drawing" when Jesus returns.

 

Maybe it would be appropriate to mention now that how we spend Saturday evening is important. It was good for me to realize recently that Saturday night is special because from about 5:00 our time Saturday evening, fellow Christians around the world begin to meet. For the sake of unity of God's people around the world, it would be commendable if our activities Saturday evening didn't detract from their worship service.

 

It contributes to the helpfulness of the meeting if there is quietness before the meeting. Therefore, it has been suggested that we be in our place at least 10 minutes before the meeting is to begin. Being in the meeting place at 10:20 makes it possible for you to sit quietly and reverently while our friends in the time zone to the east break bread. Thus we can add to the helpfulness of their meeting and again strengthen unity. Our friends to the west, when they gather, can do the same for us.

 

We want to mention attendance. The first testimony you give in the meeting is when you walk into that meeting. If you come regularly, your presence says, "This way of God means everything to me." If you don't come regularly, you're saying "This doesn't mean very much to me." You edify your brethren by first of all being in your place in the meeting. Sometimes our friends feel it isn't necessary to attend Wednesday night meetings regularly. We understand that there is shift work, human limitations, etc., but we do want to encourage you to be as regular as is at all possible. Often we fear because so many tendencies seem to be "contagious." If you don't attend, then someone else feels it isn't necessary for him to attend. Is this an area where you can sacrifice your time and your strength, your natural aspirations and later receive blessing?

 

When it is not possible to be at the meeting, it is "meeting courtesy" to phone and let the elder or the one in whose home you are meeting, know that you won't be able to attend. This applies to both Sunday and Wednesday meetings. There is often a lot of effort put into setting up the meeting room--especially if the meeting is a large one--and knowing who is going to be there is more helpful than most of us understand. When we're in a meeting and someone doesn't come, and we haven't heard why, we find it a battle to keep from thinking, "I wonder what's happened?" Knowing puts our minds at ease. I'm sure the elders of the meetings have the same experience. Letting the elder know would also apply if you have extra company to bring along.

 

The purpose of our meeting is to worship. One meaning of worship is "our whole being going out to God." The chorus of hymn number 243 describe: "worship." "Gladly yielding all, moved by love divine." We come to meeting to give ourselves again because of the love and gratitude in our hearts.

 

You know that it is good to try to aim to keep the meeting within the hour. We don't want to lose the spirit of the meeting in an attempt to keep it within the hour, but neither do we want to lose the helpfulness that can come from "bringing the kernel." Little children and parents find it difficult if the meeting gets long. Some older folks in lodges may miss their dinner if the meeting gets long.

 

One cause of long meetings is long prayers. If someone in the meeting has already prayed for those who are not there, we need not repeat that petition because we have already added our "Amen" to their petition. The prayer time in meeting rises up to God as one continuous prayer all our prayers blending into one, so there is no need to repeat. Some of our older brothers have encouraged us to prepare for our part in prayer the way we prepare for our part in testimony. The suggestion was made that we think of something we are especially thankful for that week and something we especially need that week, and utter these two things in our prayer in the meeting. Most of our meetings in the city presently are large and because of this even more effort is needed to ensure brevity. If the prayers are long, it is almost impossible to keep the meeting from being long. In the size of our meetings presently, a prayer of two or three petitions is appropriate.

 

Our experience has been that long testimonies take away from the meeting. The reading of many verses can be the cause of long testimonies. Pauses between testimonies makes a meeting longer, and also has a "deadening" effect. The most important testimony in the meeting is Jesus' testimony--in the bread and wine. Therefore it is only respectful to allow 10 minutes for that part of the meeting - so it need not be rushed.

 

We will be all our lives learning the greatness and the significance of the breaking of bread. It is good to remember this part of the meeting when we prepare for the meeting. We could do that by reading a chapter (i.e. I Corinthians 11:17-34) that is applicable, and by examining ourselves. I Corinthians 11:29 is a very good verse. If we don't discern the Lord's body, we partake unworthily. If we do discern the Lord's body, we partake worthily. One meaning of discern is "to see as distinct from other objects." If we get a vision of the standard in Christ, if we compare ourselves to the standard, if we make a genuine effort in following that standard - then we partake worthily.

 

We were told at convention that Jesus established the Fellowship Meeting on the last night of His life under the shadow of the cross in the travail of His soul. May we make the effort that Jesus made in the interest of the Fellowship Meeting. We hope these few suggestions will be profitable to you and your meeting. Try and read them from time to time so they can be kept in mind.