Menu Close

Three thirds format for Christian meetings

For quite a while now we have been using the three thirds format when meeting with other followers of Jesus. We find it very good as it helps us stay on track so that we are living as disciples who make disciples.

The 3 sections of time when meeting with other followers of Jesus are:

  • Look back – we reflect on how we have done since we last gathered, including “did we follow and fish”.
  • Look up – take time to learn something new e.g. read a bible passage and analyise it using a DBS (Discover Bible Study) method.
  • Look forward – share and plan how we are going to obediently follow Jesus until we next gather.

Our gatherings normally go for 1 to 2 hours. We do it as families (with the kids included obviously). Each section goes for about 1/3 of the whole time (like 40 minutes each in a 2 hour gathering).

To make it easier to stay on track, we have printed out this PDF of the 3/3s format for meetings + themes & references that the person/family facilitating the gathering has.

On one side is the outline of the format, and the reverse side has various themes that a group would begin with. This PDF is a bit like a “cheat sheet” that helps us remember the basics like what comes next and what bible references to look at for what theme. The topics that might be covered in the middle third (Look up) might be a story of hope or a command of Christ.

3/3s format for meetings + themes & references3/3s format for meetings + themes & references

The 3 thirds format we use is divided into 8 sections:

Look back

  1. Pastoral Care

    • share something positive
    • pray and thank God
  2. Worship

    • Music (a Psalm, some songs,  etc.)
    • the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11: 23-29)
    • offerings (Acts 4: 34-35, 2 Corinthians 9: 7-8)
  3. Accountability in love
    (summarize how you went with the following)

    • Highlights from what you read in the Bible?
    • How did you see God answer your prayers?
    • Who did you share the gospel with?
    • Who did you train to make disciples?
  4. Vision

    • Acts 2:36-47 – Church circle
    • Matthew 28:18-20 – Great Commission
    • – Matthew 9:35-38 – Workers in harvest
    • #NoPlaceLeft – Romans 15:23 Acts 19:8-10
    • other tools to cast vision and remember how many lost people in your community.

Look up

  1. New Bible Lesson: (Discovery Bible Study method)

    1. Tell the story
    2. Another person repeats the story
    3. Read the story in the Bible
    4. Ask “What can we learn about…?”:
      • God
      • People
      • Obeying (don’t do or do)

Look forward

  1. Practice

    • today’s or a previous bible story
    • 3 circles
    • testimonies
  2. Set Goals: What will you commit to do and when?

    • How you will obey what you learned today?
    • Read the Bible (1 or more chapters a day)
    • Pray to God about people & needs.
    • Share the gospel with?
    • Train another to make disciples?
  3. Commission / Pray

    • help in meeting the goals
    • lost people we know
    • other needs that we know about etc.


We use this format everywhere! It is not just for a small home group “bible study” gathering. It can simply be used everywhere that Christians are gathering to encourage each other and be encouraged to follow Jesus and obey him (especially by making Him known).

This format has been used in:

  • homes
  • cafes
  • restaurants
  • on the beach

A Christian gathering should not just be about getting together to chat, sing, read a bible passage and pray. We need to be leaving the gathering more equipped, challenged and empowered to follow Jesus and make disciples. It has been our experience that this format for a Christian gathering makes this very possible. The parts that make this a “training” time is by having the accountability, vision, practicing and setting goals sections. Having these are essential. Leaving them out will especially not promote the making of disciples who make disciples.

We continue to use and adapt as needed this simple format for meeting as a Church. Try it for yourself. I don’t think you will be disappointed.