Chicago Conference, Southeastern Wisconsin District
For this month’s featured circuit we head to the south suburbs of Chicago. The South Chicago Circuit is a newly formed circuit subdividing a larger one. A continuing challenge for this circuit is travel, especially because of traffic issues. Yet, this circuit meets every month except when there is a conference. This year they began meeting during the summer as well.
Their meetings last three hours beginning at 9:00 a.m. with a devotion by the host pastor. Then the group spends the next 75 minutes doing a text study of the Gospel for the next Sunday. This is led by the circuit pastor who usually assigns each person a verse or two to prepare in advance.
This is followed by an hour of theological study. Each pastor takes a turn choosing an essay or a topic to study. Information about what will be studied is shared prior to the meeting so that the men can prepare.
The final half hour is devoted to synod, conference and circuit business. The group then goes out for lunch which provides opportunity for fellowship. The circuit hopes to have some other fellowship gatherings which will include families.
One new event which the South Chicago Circuit held this past winter was an elder’s workshop. Elders from each congregation met with the pastors. After an opening devotion by Pastor Waterstradt, Pastor Joe Schlawin of Crown Point, Indiana, conducted a Bible study on the Lord’s Supper which was the topic chosen by the pastors at one of their regular circuit meetings. Time was allotted for a casuistry-style discussion. Fellowship was also part of the day. This event was well-attended and greatly appreciated. Plans are in the works for another elder’s workshop this next year.
There are several items about the study plan of the South Chicago Circuit worth noting:
- Devoting over an hour to the text study provides for very meaningful and thorough discussion. The assignment of one or two verses to each pastor shares the burden of preparation.
- Studying different theological topics can serve to keep interest and provide opportunity to discuss issues of immediate concern.
- The South Chicago Circuit is to be commended for instituting an elder’s workshop. It is a great way to bring church leaders together to study a theological subject and discuss issues related to the work of elders. This kind of event provides a wonderful opportunity for elders to share joys, concerns and challenges and just be encouraged by their fellow Christians who are striving to shepherd God’s flock and regain the straying.
Here are a few suggestions for circuits that would consider adopting/adapting larger or smaller portions of the plans of the South Chicago Circuit:
- Instead of an opening devotion, perhaps consider having one of the brothers (or the host pastor) preach his sermon from the previous Sunday and then allow a little extra time for constructive critique.
- Studying the Old Testament lesson on occasion would provide opportunity to improve Hebrew skills. Or perhaps consider studying an entire book of the Bible in order to get the feel of the larger context of Scripture.
- From time to time, maybe study a portion of the Lutheran Confessions in place of the theological topic.
- Keep working to find ways to have fellowship events which include the families of the circuit.