This month we profile the Bay Circuit of the Michigan District consisting of the congregations in and around Bay City, Michigan. The Bay Circuit meets every month except when there is a conference or convention, even during the summer. Each meeting lasts about two hours.
After an opening devotion by the circuit pastor, any issues for discussion are listed in order to ensure there is sufficient time at the end of the meeting to discuss them. Then about an hour is spent on exegetical study. Currently, the Bay Circuit is studying the Gospel of John. An alphabetical list provides the schedule of who prepared the discussion in advance.
The next forty-five minutes are spent on a topic of a more practical nature. The Bay Circuit has been studying various essays on the roles of men and women and discussing applications. The purpose is to have consistent application across the congregations of the circuit. For one meeting, the circuit brought in someone from the Post Office to discuss the advantages and costs of mass mailings for evangelism purposes. This time has also been used recently to assist two pastors of the circuit who are doing work for the Translation Evaluation Committee.
The final fifteen minutes are spent on the questions of casuistry offered at the beginning of the meeting. After adjournment for prayer, the brothers go out for lunch and continue informal discussions.
There are several items about the study plan of the Bay Circuit worth noting:
- The Bay Circuit should be applauded for meeting during the summer. Congregational schedules are often lighter during the summer months. Therefore, continuing to conduct circuit meetings during the summer makes a lot of sense. A group could change their format or what they are studying for the summer months. Some might be on vacation, but just meet with those who can attend.
- Studying an issue in order to gain consensus and consistency in application is especially important in areas where congregations are in close proximity. Circuit meetings are the perfect time to do this.
- Bringing in an outside presenter to discuss a matter of a practical nature with benefit to all of the pastors can also be an excellent use of circuit meeting study time.
Here are a few suggestions for circuits that would consider adopting/adapting larger or smaller portions of the plans of the Bay Circuit:
- To provide more balance in what is being studied, an extra half hour added to the schedule would allow time for a sermon review, book study, or discussion of the Lutheran Confessions. An extra hour would allow two of these to be accomplished, thus adding to the breadth of study occurring each month.
- A rotation for the opening devotion would allow other pastors in the circuit the opportunity to share God’s Word with his fellow pastors in the circuit.