Setting up a
church schedule

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How can you set up a basic church schedule for a fellowship group? Some groups operate quite successfully with little more than a starting time and place for their meetings. Others print a timeline for services each week and largely stick to it. In general, more scheduling is needed for larger groups and less for smaller ones. Long-time friends are comfortable with each other even if the service is delayed and they end up waiting for half an hour talking. People just beginning to attend for the first time may be uncomfortable if they do not know what to expect or if there is nothing to do. Nevertheless, no schedule should be so strict that it cannot be changed when the Holy Spirit provides direction.

The items that will go into a schedule for church will depend largely upon the people and the spiritual gifts available. Most plans will include opening and closing prayers, congregational singing, special music, prayers for those in need, announcements and some either Scripture reading or a message with comments and questions. Some include a time for people to prophesy or speak in tongues and interpret. Some hold a communion service (bread and wine - 1Corinthians 10:16; 11:17 - 33) every week, others only occasionally. There should always be a time reserved for any member who believes he or she has something God wants them to say to the congregation.

Activities and teachings directed at younger people in the congregation are an essential part of any church schedule. Find the brethren that are most gifted at teaching young people. This author has seen much debate about whether young people should be separated from their parents during a service. Obviously, if young people are separate, teaching can be tailored directly to their level of understanding. On the other hand, it is vital for children to see their parents participate in the main service and for them to understand as much as possible of what actually takes place there.

Lessons directed toward children can be presented with adults present. The children can learn and the adults can frequently learn something from the children. The overall plan of your services should be based upon the congregations and its needs.

Breaking the church schedule up into sections with a short break in between allows people to come and go for the parts of the service most applicable to them. Some groups have youth lessons before the main service. Others have a praise service of all singing for 30 to 60 minutes. Still others have a prayer service. People can then attend those sections that are important to them. When this kind of format exists, it is important for brethren to encourage each other not to "hide" from things that they might actually need. If God wants someone to learn to sing or pray for others, that person may need to be encouraged to attend the praise or prayer service, even though they may feel like they do not want to.

When people begin a new service, especially if they are participating in it, they often want to stay a longer time than usual. This is a very good thing, but it also makes serving food important in the form of either a snack or a full meal. People simply stay at any event longer when there is food, especially if it is good food. Groups that have several different segments to their church schedule, or a service followed by a Bible study may want to serve the food between events. If all of the events run one after another, it is best to serve the food at the end, as more people will stay and talk. Serving at the beginning is better than not at all. This may be required if the meeting facilities do not have refrigeration. There will probably be people in your congregation who are gifted with preparing, setting up and serving food. Let them serve in this way, and thank God for them.

Additional Study Materials
Why do people worship God on Sunday?
Why should Christians meet to worship God?
Is God's prophetic schedule on time?
How to Start a Church!

Why begin again?

Dress code

Shared ministry

A meeting placeMusic and PraiseDisagreements

Finding a name

Teaching the Bible

Run without Pastor

Services scheduleFinancesChristian Leadership


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