Starting and Maintaining a Monthly Workshop

From my first full-time work in Yorkville, Tennessee in 1967, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a workshop once a month where brethren meet together to study, learn, connect, and encourage. In my two first congregations, there were meetings already scheduled. In later places, I was able to help start meetings.

In our Nashville area meeting, we have the following schedule:

9:15 – Continental Breakfast
9:30 – Devotional
9:45 – Sermon Outline
10:00 – Stress Session
11:00 – Selected Topic (any topic you select is a selected topic)
11:15 – Book Review
11:30 – Announcements and planning for next month
12:00 – Lunch at a local restaurant

Web page announcing our meeting: 3rd Monday Workshop

It’s amazing what we can learn from each other.

How do you start a meeting?

In more than one place where I went that didn’t have a monthly opportunity, I met with a preacher I knew and asked him if he thought this would be helpful in that area. Each replied they did and were interested. I asked if he’d participate regularly. Each replied he would. I said, “As long as you and I are in the area, we’ll have a monthly meeting. If others come, that will be great. If they don’t you and I will meet.”

I schedule an explanation meeting. My wife prepares lunch. I explain the format of the monthly meeting. We pass out cards and ask each person to state what day of the week and what week of the month would be best. We take the majority and begin meeting. Some areas rotate from congregation to congregation. Some places cover a large area and select a central town to meet. Either will work.

Principles for an Effective Monthly Workshop

  • Someone to lead who values the activity and will set structure.
  • A commitment to have the workshop if two people attend. That will be good. Anything after that is extra.
  • Meet every month. It’s easier to keep a train rolling than to start it from dead still. We’ve missed one month in thirty-two years. There was ½” of ice all across Middle Tennessee. During the first five months of COVID-19, we met by Zoom.
  • If you have two people, you have enough to have a profitable meeting. Don’t get intoxicated on numbers. Two is enough to have a good meeting.
  • Responsibilities of the host.
  1. Light breakfast: doughnuts, coffee, milk, juice.
  2. Devotional.
  3. Keep the meeting moving.
  4. Select a restaurant in the area to eat after the meeting.
  • The stress session must have adequate guidelines to be effective. Some meetings turn into gossip sessions: “Who’s done or said something wrong since the last time?”. That will kill a meeting and it’s wrong. There needs to be structure to provide a safe place to talk. I describe it as “You can say or ask anything you want and we won’t tell on you.” In our Nashville meeting, I’ve never known of that being violated in the thirty-two years we’ve been meeting. Here are the guidelines I’ve used in leading meetings: Guidelines for a Good Discussion . One group added another agreement: “We will not talk disparagingly about any person not present.” It was helpful.

We begin the stress session by going around the room, telling who we are, where we’re from, and if we’d like to discuss something during the session. People have talked about deaths in the family, issues with spouses, children, and other family members, being fired, discussing a decision to stay or leave a place of work and other topics where a second opinion could be helpful.

If you have questions about starting or maintaining a monthly group, feel free to contact me: .

For good things you’ve observed in monthly workshops, please leave comments here.

(Visited 308 times, 31 visits today)
Jerrie Barber
Disciple of Jesus, husband, grandfather, preacher, barefoot runner, ventriloquist

2 Responses to “Starting and Maintaining a Monthly Workshop

  • Chuck Lipford
    4 years ago

    Jerry, The Sanford Church of Christ, Sanford, Fl has hosted a quarterlyey meeting for shepherds and ministers for many years. Their ladies provide an excellent lunch and all participants report on their local church and bring up any questions they might have. Have not noticed any hesitation in bring up or reporting on happenings or asking for help. I find it useful and enjoyable.


  • Chuck,

    Thank you for reporting on an encouraging opportunity for brethren in your area.

    Good communication promotes unity.