Eastern Mennonite University

The Gatherings

Gathering 1—Introduction to the program and to one another.

Meal: 20 minutes

Spend a little extra time on the meal for this session. It will help to literally leave a good taste in the participants’ mouths for the next session. This is an excellent time to practice and model servant leadership.

The meal time is a time for informal discussion of life events. During the first session spend time getting to know each other.

Opening Prayer and Worship: 10 minutes

Open with prayer and spend some time worshipping together. Choose one or two hymns or choruses, find a litany to read together, or read some scripture. Make sure to pick things that go thematically with the topic of the day

Explanation of Timothy Project: 45 minutes

In the first session you need to give each person the Participant’s Guide, copies of the books they’ll be reading, and any other resources they might need.

Explain the program. Talk through the Participant’s Guide and outline the syllabus. You may want to give some explanation of why you choose the resources you choose. Explain the three stages you’ll work through as they are described in the Purpose section on page 5-6 of this book.

After the explanation of the program and materials ask each person to share, “Why I am here and what I expect out of this experience” Give them some time to think and make notes on page 6 of the Participant’s Guide.

Break: 10-15 minutes

What the Bible Has to Say About Ministry: 20 minutes

Work through the "What The Bible Has To Say About Ministry" sheet, page 7-10 of the Participants Guide. The answers are in the appendix are in this book on page 34 Some suggestions for this are:

Have each person choose a prayer partner in the group that they will pray with during the nine weeks. Have them pray together briefly.

Remind them to fill out the Minister Shadowing request form before the next weeks gathering

Assign the Homework: Speaking of God - Ch. 1 & 2; Celebration of Discipline - Ch. 1

Close in Prayer

Additional Resources: Ten Things I didn’t Learn in Seminary by John Esau

Gathering 2—Discipleship and Life Purpose

Meal: 20 minutes

Begin again with a meal but tone it down a bit. You may want to ask the group to share the responsibility for preparing the meal but we would discourage you from doing this. This is a time when you are to serve theses persons and model what servant leadership is about.

Discuss the reading for the week during the breakfast, pay more attention to Celebration of Discipline since Speaking of God will be covered extensively in gathering six.

Gather up the shadowing cards and anything else that needs to be taken care of.

Opening Prayer and Worship: 10 minutes

Open with prayer and spend some time worshipping together. Choose one or two hymns or choruses, find a litany to read together, or read some scripture. Make sure to pick things that go thematically with the topic of the day

Presentation: Principles of Discipleship and Discovering your life purpose

Discuss discipleship. Either have a guest speaker discuss their own discipleship or work through the “Discipleship Notebook” section of the Participants Guide.   It begins on page 16 of the Participants Guide. The Discipleship Notebook section of the Participants Guide is a tool to help participants think about discipleship and record their thoughts. They may add lined paper for journaling, sermon notes, Bible study notes, and prayers or prayer requests.

Break: 10-15 minutes

Questions and Answers: 20 minutes

Give the group between 20 to 30 minutes to ask the presenter questions about their spiritual life and how they sustain it in ministry or other questions that they might have. Remember, very few people have the opportunity to ask us these type of questions so don’t spend so much time on information that you miss out on the formation.

Closing and Prayer: 15 minutes

Have participants meet with their prayer partners and pray for each other.

Assign the Homework: Speaking of God - Ch. 3; Celebration of Discipline - Ch. 2-4. Have participants complete the worksheets “Remembering Your Story” pages 12-15   in the Participants Guide

Gathering 3 –Remembering your story

Meal: 20 minutes

Discuss the reading for the week during the breakfast, pay more attention to Celebration of Discipline since Speaking of God will be covered extensively in gathering six.

Opening Prayer and Worship: 10 minutes

Open with prayer and spend some time worshipping together. Choose one or two hymns or choruses, find a litany to read together, or read some scripture. Make sure to pick things that go thematically with the topic of the day

Sharing your Story: 75 minutes (including break)

Give each student an equal amount of time to talk through their discoveries on the “Remembering Your Story” worksheets. The time will vary depending on the number of students.

Take a 10-15 minute break after about half the students have shared.

Encourage participants to ask each other formational questions like “Where was God at that time in your life?” and “When did you feel like God was absent?” Discourage participants from trying to provide answers to other participants’ difficult life situations. Create an atmosphere of safety and confidentiality, but encourage students to share their own stories with those outside the group as they feel comfortable.

Closing and Prayer: 15 minutes

Have participants meet with their prayer partners and pray for each other.

Assign the Homework: Speaking of God – Ch 4; Celebration of Discipline - Ch. 5; If I Were Starting My Ministry Again. Hand out the personality profile you have chosen for students to complete by the next week. This way you will also have a week to score them. For suggestions about personality profiles see page 22 of this book.

Gathering 4 –If I Were Starting My Ministry Again

Meal: 20 minutes

Discuss the reading for the week during the breakfast, pay more attention to Celebration of Discipline since Speaking of God will be covered extensively in gathering six.

Collect the personality profiles so you can score them.

Opening Prayer and Worship: 10 minutes

Open with prayer and spend some time worshipping together. Choose one or two hymns or choruses, find a litany to read together, or read some scripture. Make sure to pick things that go thematically with the topic of the day

Presentation: 45 minutes

Find an experienced minister in your congregation and conference to share with participants what they would do if they were starting ministry again.

We highly recommend you ask the overseer, conference pastor, bishop, or conference minister since this will introduce participants to the conference system.

We also recommend that you encourage the minister to be as honest as possible about the joys and the trials of ministry.

Break: 10-15 minutes

Questions and Answers: 20 minutes

Give the group between 20 to 30 minutes to ask the presenter questions about ministry.

Closing and Prayer: 15 minutes

Have participants meet with their prayer partners and pray for each other.

Assign the Homework: Speaking of God - Ch. 5; Celebration of Discipline – 6-7.

Additional Resource: Ten Keys to Healthy Relationships

Gathering 5– Understanding Myself and Others in Ministry

Meal: 20 minutes

Discuss the reading for the week during the breakfast, pay more attention to Celebration of Discipline since Speaking of God will be covered extensively in gathering six.

Opening Prayer and Worship: 10 minutes

Open with prayer and spend some time worshipping together. Choose one or two hymns or choruses, find a litany to read together, or read some scripture. Make sure to pick things that go thematically with the topic of the day

Understanding my Profile: 45 minutes

Pass out the scored personality profiles

Explain the profiles and their meaning. If you are unfamiliar with the profile you have chosen find someone else who can explain it well. Be sure to talk about their profiles in terms of ministry

Break: 10-15 minutes

Questions and Answers: 20 minutes

Give the group between 20 to 30 minutes to ask questions about their profiles and talk about how they have or have not seen these profiles play out in their lives.

Closing and Prayer: 15 minutes

Have participants meet with their prayer partners and pray for each other.

Assign the Homework: Speaking of God - Ch.6-7; Celebration of Discipline – 8-9.

Gathering 6 –Spiritual Direction as Ministry

Meal: 20 minutes

Discuss the reading for the week during the breakfast, pay more attention to Celebration of Discipline since Speaking of God will be covered extensively today.

Opening Prayer and Worship: 10 minutes

Open with prayer and spend some time worshipping together. Choose one or two hymns or choruses, find a litany to read together, or read some scripture. Make sure to pick things that go thematically with the topic of the day

Presentation: 45 minutes

There are two options for this meeting.

Give the group between 20 to 30 minutes to ask the presenter questions about ministry or for further discussion of Speaking of God.

Closing and Prayer: 15 minutes

Have participants meet with their prayer partners and pray for each other.

Assign the Homework: Speaking of God - Ch. 8-9 Celebration of Discipline – 10. Have participants complete the spiritual gifts survey of your choice. Our suggestions for this are on page 22-23.

Gathering  7–Discovering my Spiritual Gifts

Meal: 20 minutes

Discuss the reading for the week during the breakfast, pay more attention to Celebration of Discipline since Speaking of God was covered extensively in gathering six. You may want to have a little discussion about the additional chapters in Speaking of God that you read for today.

Opening Prayer and Worship: 10 minutes

Open with prayer and spend some time worshipping together. Choose one or two hymns or choruses, find a litany to read together, or read some scripture. Make sure to pick things that go thematically with the topic of the day

Presentation: 45 minutes

Work through the spiritual gifts inventory. You may have students score them   or you may score them ahead of time, if you choose to do   this assign them on week 5.

You could also have someone come in to talk about spiritual gifts and ministry. Or you may talk about it yourself.

Break: 10-15 minutes

Questions and Answers: 20 minutes

Give the group between 20 to 30 minutes to ask questions about their spiritual gifts inventories.

Closing and Prayer: 15 minutes

Have participants meet with their prayer partners and pray for each other.

Assign the Homework: Celebration of Discipline- Ch 11-12, Speaking of God Chapters 8 -9

Gathering 8 –Setting Boundaries in Ministry

Meal: 20 minutes

Discuss the reading for the week during the breakfast, pay more attention to Celebration of Discipline.

Opening Prayer and Worship: 10 minutes

Open with prayer and spend some time worshipping together. Choose one or two hymns or choruses, find a litany to read together, or read some scripture. Make sure to pick things that go thematically with the topic of the day

Presentation: 45 minutes

There are two options for this session:

Break: 10-15 minutes

Questions and Answers: 20 minutes

Give the group between 20 to 30 minutes to ask the presenter questions about boundaries, or to discuss the video series.

Closing and Prayer: 15 minutes

Have participants meet with their prayer partners and pray for each other.

Assign the Homework: Celebration of Discipline – 13, Speaking of God Chapter 10.

Additional Resources: Five Characteristics of Self-Differentiation

Gathering 9 –Where do I go from here?

Meal: 20 minutes

Discuss the reading for the week during the breakfast.

Opening Prayer and Worship: 10 minutes

Open with prayer and spend some time worshipping together. Choose one or two hymns or choruses, find a litany to read together, or read some scripture. Make sure to pick things that go thematically with the topic of the day

Presentation: 45 minutes

Hand out the packet of opportunities for ministry that you put together for this session. This is described on page 24-25. Talk through the packet. You may want to focus the time on specific areas of ministry you know members of your group are interested in, or you can give a more general overview.

Break: 10-15 minutes

Questions and Answers: 20 minutes

Give the group between 20 to 30 minutes to discuss with each other ministries they may be interested in, and make commitments to each other about their next steps for pursuing ministry.

Make note of the ministries each person is pursuing so that you can follow up with   them later.

Closing and Prayer: 15 minutes

Have participants meet with their prayer partners and pray for each other.

Close in group prayer.

Additional Resource: Is there really a pastoral shortage among Mennonites? 

Additional comments:

Some of the presenters may back out on you at the last minute for unforeseen reasons so make sure you always are prepared to jump in if necessary.

Make sure that you have any handouts or materials ready to hand out a day or two before your meetings. Making copies at 5 in the morning is not a good way to start the day especially if the copier blocks or runs out of ink.

Enjoy yourself; this is God’s work. God spoke to these persons before you did and your call is to simply accompany them along the journey gently pointing out what they are already sensing in their spirits.