Sunday, June 19, 2011

The ideal church meeting

On a discussion group the question was posed: Describe your ideal church meeting. My response was long enough to be its own post, so I'm copying and pasting here.

I'm a big fan of the laity but I want to see training in giving sermons and have those sermons go beyond the standard works and the Ensign. Give up to 1 month for lay members to prepare a sermon where they can research and find sources from across history and around the world. And then keep sacrament meeting to 45 minutes-ish since just the administration of the sacrament takes 20.

However, the administration of the sacrament can/should move to the jurisdiction of the family. Those who want to/need the church for the administration of it, can attend that portion of the meeting, but its ridiculousness to be that the church actively precludes people from taking the sacrament if they can't make church due to not-deigned-to-be-good enough reasons.

After sacrament, the children should be able to leave the chapel and go to their classes. The Unitarians in my home congregation do a cool thing where they sing the children to their classes.

Music in sacrament yes, forget the staid and move in with the joyful, exuberant arrangements. Dance and sing, move and clap. Musical instruments of all sorts performed by ward members.

Joint priesthood and Relief Society, ordain women, make this meeting after sacrament and keep it to 45 minutes. Sometimes have this meeting about action, or use it to brainstorm advocacy efforts and how their ward can put the gospel into action in their community. Knit during meetings, cut out file folder games, etc.

Sunday school last (and maybe not on Sundays), have it for those who want/need to attend. Maybe even give over the Sunday school to the Institutes, encourage each member to be attending one class at all times, call seminary enough for the YM/YW and build it into their programs to earn their achievements.

If not a potluck something like a "coffee hour" where drinks and maybe sometimes snacks are served. Church at this point is only 1 1/2-2 hrs so you shouldn't be having horribly hungry people. Obviously find a different name "fellowship hall" or "social hour." Give people a chance to visit, discuss and really get to know the goings-on of members of their ward. This is where the throughout the week fellowship is going to be strengthened.

I also think that if church on Sundays wasn't such a major investment, members would be more willing to do social/volunteer/nature stuff outside of church. I love the ideas of sometimes conducting worship services outside in nature. That would be a good use for the church owned recreational areas a few times a year.

My thoughts are pretty influenced by the Unitarian Universalist ways of doing things. For a few years now,  I have been missing a good, well-prepared, profound sermon. Not having the children in the meeting for the sermon is actually more conducive to worship and for mature reflection. After a coming of age, perhaps 12, the youth can be made apart of those sermons as well.  I miss those coffee hours where people visit and talk before leaving to go home.

So those are my ideas, anything here you know you wouldn't like? What is your ideal church meeting?


Anonymous said...

I love, love, love that idea. I myself have been thinking to make sacrament meeting just sacrament meeting, where those who are baptized partake of the sacrament, and the a Scriptural thought is read by the Bishop, and Relief Society president, and ended with a prayer by a child of age 7. I think that since my idea is just sacrament that quiet reflecting music should be played and sang during that time. Those are absolutely the sweetest little prayers and they are at the age where it is beginning to sound more like a prayer than a thank you note. Age 7 because that is the age right before baptism, and they should be preparing during that year to baptized, and partake in sacrament. My idea is inspired by Catholicism.

So you only have a half hour sacrament meeting. Then its Sunday School, where Priesthood and Relief Society are already combined, this also is about a half hour to 45 minutes, where the True to the Faith is used, rather then any other manual (I find True to the Faith to be a better overall book then other manuals in our church because of its focus on multiple subjects, rather then just the main gospel tenets, making it very well rounded).

Then after that there is a break for food, what is called a...Break the fast (on fast sundays), and Linger longer. I loved Linger Longer at times, and its a great little snacking time. It could be used to also quell the fits of the little ones, who need to be fed every hour to hour and a half. It could also be used as nap time too. It can be about 45 minutes.

I still see the need for primary. Which can take place during the linger longer time as well. It just would have to be organized that people can take turns to snack and talk with adults. Which actually brings me to the idea that everybody should partake taking care of the children so parents get a break. So you rotate each sunday who has to teach primary. This is mostly music time, and short little stories. I've had a couple books that are scripture stories for children, its fantastic, and that can really help children learn scriptures, without the need for it to be hard for them to understand scripture language (we should really also just translate the scriptures to be closer to what God wants, but thats another post).

Anyway these are starting ideas. I love the idea of everybody pinching in, but no formal callings. Simply the calling of spirit type thing, do what you feel is best, but tell the Ecclesiastical leaders what it is, so they can impart a blessing to you if you so desire to call on the spirit to be your partner in that calling.

And that is what I would see church as. A total of 2 hours, with primary taking place in the linger longer session. It could even be flipped, but then Linger Longer would have to be changed to something else like what you mentioned. That way primary could be held while the children eat & nap, and adults talk, and then Sacrament can start about five minutes afterward, then a half hour later Sunday School Starts, and 45 minutes later, people go home.

So that is my idea. Its just one out of many.

Anonymous said...

Oh I didn't say anything about YW/YM, because I completely and totally agreed with your idea about seminary. I love it. It should definitely be made that way.

Anonymous said...

And again, I think that YW/YM, since they are of baptized age, they can join in the Sunday School with the Adults, and just be recognized as part of the Relief Society organization, so they don't have to be afraid of turning 18 and leaving their friends because their friends will be there, right with them in Sunday School and Seminary.