Format of a Whole Bible Meeting
Based on the Scripture readings above (Deuteronomy 6:4–9; 1
Timothy 4:13; Acts 15:21; 1 Corinthians 14:26–35; 1 Corinthians 4:6;
Luke 24:25–27; Luke 4:16–21; Ephesians 4:11-16) it seems that we can
develop some ideas of a congregational meeting format.
- The public reading of Scripture was a main part.
- The Scripture reading was regular and seems to have
covered at least the Torah (Moses).
- Believers are to speak of His commands everywhere.
- Everyone participates.
- All things should be done for building up (the faith) of
- Women generally keep silent.
- Believers are not to go "beyond what is written" that none
should be "puffed up."
- Add to these things standard Christian behavior such as
love, "bearing one another's burdens," the fact that we are related
to one another closer than physical or legal relationships (in the
Spirit), and the fruit of the Spirit (especially humility).
Church formats, where one guy speaks or teaches and everyone
else listens do not appear to be in the Word. They are common in modern
times, and if a group likes that format there are plenty of places to
go. A congregation meeting models the behavior that individuals copy
when there is no meeting. If the weekly assembly is a big show, with
rock bands and motivational speakers and multi-screened visuals, how in
the world can anyone copy that at home?
Do we want others to read the Word? Read it in the meeting. Do
we want them to search the Word for answers to life's difficulties? Then
search them in the assembly. Do we want the body to live the Word? Live
it in the assembly.
Our suggestion is to read large sections of the Word publicly.
All can participate in the public reading. It should cover at least the
Law or Moses' writings. Then
everyone talks about what they learned as they read that week. You can
also talk about how to implement God’s living oracles. It sounds simple,
which is true. The plan is simple. The execution, however, is something
else. For one, it’s not quite as exciting or ear-tickling as the
flavor-of-the-week preaching you’ll get at the local church. For
another, God’s Word confronts us daily with ourselves. And our failures.
On the other hand, there is much to be gained from admitting our
failures (confessing). If we confess, we admit we could do better. We
gain control. It might not be easy to change (repent) but it is much
more satisfying, healthy, peaceful, and, well, all the fruit of the
One problem with many households is that the Word is just not
read that often at home. People tend to think His Book is beyond their
comprehension. We need to show that the Word is plain, easy to
understand, and all parts are easily applicable to all daily living.
Children will learn by hearing and reading and will hopefully go on to
keep regular reading a part of their lives. We should model behavior
that we want others to copy.
13 Until I come, devote yourself to the
public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. (1 Timothy
So a public reading program is ideal. Setting up a system of reading
is going to help establish habits that will be continued daily all week
people to follow their own reading program too. Teach them to read that
Parasha before they get to the meeting, so they are prepared with
questions and comments. It's not as exciting as that paid cheerleader
who speaks down to you every week. It's not flashy, and won't get you
points from Oprah. So what. The problem is not the Word, but in
ourselves. We want the cheerleader, because we don't have to do anything
ourselves. We like the kudos from talk show hosts, because that's easier
than looking God in the eye and confessing that we don't measure up. We
don't like to obey. It's the original four letter word.
If everyone should participate, how would having one paid guy at the
front talking all the time encourage that participation? Obviously, it
wouldn't and doesn't. That's one of the side effects of one paid guy.
If, however, you have a meeting starting out with group reading of the
Parasha (at least), and allow discussion along with songs and prayer or
other sharing, then Scripture will be fulfilled.
26 What then, brothers? When you come
together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an
interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. (1 Corinthians
A reading schedule helps make sure we regularly and evenly
cover all of the Torah. Absent members can stay connected. We can read
beforehand and be prepared with teachings or questions. But the schedule
should not be the only reading done at home. We should encourage reading
through the whole of the Word on a regular, at least annual, basis. Then
we will be able to see the unity and continuity of the Bible and be
better able to explain it to others (such as the Ethiopian eunuch of
We've got some tools for you that will help. There's the
booklet on the
page, Study Helps, and our forum (the
blog at wholebible.com). There's also Bruce's book
Christianity, which gives a framework for whole Bible concepts and
If one has questions or comments, either on the Scripture or
what another says (as in weighing what the prophets said or similar),
space to speak should also be allowed. Women do not necessarily have to
be completely silent, but should be mindful of their place as teachers
of what God has said, including submission to their husbands. Husbands
must also be mindful of leading, making sure to follow God in all things
so that their example will be followed by others. Even if they are not
going anywhere, God has set it up so that husbands are leaders.
Music has a place, and as with public reading all are welcome
to participate also. We should aim to help musicians learn how to play
with others and be comfortable with public leading of songs. Children
should be encouraged to jump in. Dancing is fine; taught and led by
those so moved.
Our personal opinions also include making a format such that it
can be duplicated anywhere with any group of people, at home or more
formally at a central location. In other words, we don't need
professionals doing things that can only be done in a professional
setting. Studying God's Word in a group situation should not be
different than when we are home alone. We want a format that encourages
interaction with each other, helps with our personal studies, and