By Annie McCune
At our recent staff women’s retreat Lynne Green asked me to share briefly about what format we had been using in Seattle’s Eastside Ministry to help our midweek services to be inspiring. The lesson title that she gave me was: “Best of Show”. I started my lesson by looking at a couple scriptures that have inspired my thinking about the purpose of our midweek services. In Acts 2:42the Bible talks about the first Christians and their dedication to the apostles’ teachings, the fellowship, the breaking of bread and to prayer. In our fellowship we break bread every week on Sundays, but midweek services are a time that I believe can be dedicated to the other elements mentioned. It is a time to delve deeply into the scriptures (the apostles’ teaching), to take time to pray, and to carve out time for spiritual fellowship. All these elements contribute to a meaningful and successful midweek service. We also looked atEzra 7:8-10 which describes Ezra as a man who “had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” I believe that Ezra is a great example to men and women in the full time ministry. Not only was he a great example in his commitment to God, but he had dedicated himself also to being an excellent teacher. Midweek provides a great opportunity for full-time women’s ministry leaders to deepen the convictions and understanding of those they are leading as they follow the example of Ezra in teaching the Bible. I described the excitement of the women in the Eastside ministry as we have delved deeply into the books of Galatians, 2 Timothy and most recently Exodus. We all hunger for a greater understanding of God, and the Bible never fails to satiate that hunger. Finally we looked at the scripture in 2 Timothy 2:1-2 where Paul charges Timothy to entrust to reliable men the task of teaching others. We talked about how every ministry has many ‘reliable women’ who are not in the full time ministry, but have the gift of teaching and should also be given the opportunity to teach. Again, midweek services have provided a great venue for this to take place.
In light of these scriptures, I described the midweek schedule that has seems to be working for us recently on the Eastside. The Eastside is comprised of mostly families, so for midweek services we meet every other week. Each ‘season’ we have a different midweek structure. In the fall, as the kids are heading back to school, we also get back to studying. So for the months of September through November we have a class on a book of the Bible. The months of December and January in Seattle tend to be cold and dark. We had received feedback from many of the women on the Eastside that they would like to do something close to home during this winter season. So for the months of December and January we have midweek services in homes with our Bible talk groups. Some groups devote the time to prayer by candlelight, other groups decide to study a spiritual book or have time for discipleship groups, meeting the need for some extra fellowship. Each group individually decides what will best meet the needs of their group during this time. Our ‘spring’ season is February through June. This five month ‘season’ provides us with enough time to have two class sessions. One we dedicate to a book of the Bible, and one we dedicate to studying a biblical topic. Finally, in the summer (June and July), we have another opportunity to have in-home groups. This last summer was so amazing. I asked for volunteers to host and lead a small group. We had eleven different choices for the women. Everyone signed up for a class that interested them. Some women taught on a book of the Bible, some led discussions on a spiritual book, and some taught classes or led discussion groups on spiritual topics. It was so encouraging having so many ‘reliable women’ step up to teach others. We had classes on marriage, trusting God, prayer, church history, mothers in the Bible, personal development, and several other topics.
As we have tried to incorporate different elements into our midweek services, we have sought after spiritual growth while enjoying a variable texture of midweek experiences. As the church grows and changes, I’m sure that our midweek services will continue to grow and change as well; but for now, we are grateful to have experienced midweek services that we consider the ‘best of show’.