Gospel Hall FAQ

What is a Gospel Hall?

Gospel Hall the name of the building where Christians meet to “gather to the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Matthew 18:20).  The churches who meet in Gospel Halls are sometimes referred to as Plymouth Brethren churches.

For simplicity sake, http://www.gospelhall.org/ is much easier to remember than http://www.christiansgatheredtothenameofourlordjesuschrist.org/ 

Where can I find a Gospel Hall?

You can look at the section called Assembly Directory on this site. 

Why the name Gospel Hall?

The word “Hall” is a general name for a public building.  Since the Gospel is preached regularly in a Gospel Hall, the name is appropriate for its use.  To distinguish the church (group of people) from the building, the name is distinguished.  Some assemblies choose to name their building a “Gospel Chapel” or use the name of the town or street such as “Smithville Hall”.  Gospel Hall is a common name used in many English speaking North American assemblies.

Are you associated with the Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall?

Absolutely Not.  Unlike a Kingdom Hall, the teachings at the Gospel Hall are based on salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, apart from good works or membership in any organization.

What are the beliefs at the Gospel Hall?

God's Word is the foundation on which a healthy church is built. Our mission is based on the commands of the Lord Jesus to worship, preach the gospel, help believers learn more about Him and honor the Lordship of Christ.  Some of his words include

Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Matthew 28

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

1 Corinthians 1123 …the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.What is a church service like?

What are the Services held in a Gospel Hall?

Following the pattern of the first churches in Acts, church meetings in the gospel hall will include devotional worship on Sunday, Bible studies, Gospel preaching, pastoral teaching for believers, reports from missionaries and meetings for elders of the church.

  1. Every Sunday, the assembly will meet to break bread.  This meeting is either called the “worship meeting”, “breaking of bread” or the “remembrance meeting” based on Jesus’ actions and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.  The focus of this meeting is Christ - his divine character, death, resurrection and Lordship.  Each man will take turns in leading the congregation in prayer, reading a scripture or choosing an appropriate hymn.  After a set period of time (30 to 90 minutes depending on the size of the assembly), someone will specifically thank God for the bread which symbolizes the Lord’s body.  The loaf of bread is handed around the congregation so everyone can take a piece.  Similarly, someone offers a prayer of thanks for Christ’s blood which is symbolized by the cup.  It too is shared and then placed back on the table.  Someone will close with a hymn or prayer or both. This is the Lord’s pattern of worship for the church (Matthew 26:26-38; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).  It allows for the practice called the “Priesthood of all believers” (1 Peter 2:5-9).  Far from being an entertaining experience, the breaking of bread is an expression of reverence where Christians enter the Heavenly Sanctuary, that is the Holiest of All, to offer praise through the value of the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:10-15).
  2. The ministry meeting is a teaching meeting for the “edification, exhortation and comfort” (1 Corinthians 14:3).  One person will take 30 to 60 minutes to read a portion of the Bible and teach the meaning, its context and apply it to daily living.  The teaching meeting typically is scheduled after the Breaking of Bread.  Many assemblies will conduct an annual Bible conference where hundreds of believers will meet in a rented auditorium for a more intensive or in-depth session of teaching.
  3. Sunday evening is the customary time for a Gospel Meeting.  At the Gospel Meeting two speakers will preach from the Bible regarding salvation themes – sin, the soul, redemption, the character of God, eternity, faith, assurance etc.  From time to time, the assembly will conduct a series of nightly gospel meetings that may last several weeks.  Sometimes these are conducted in the Gospel Hall.  Often they are in community buildings, tents or schools.
  4. An assembly will usually conduct a prayer and bible study meeting one evening mid-week.  The correspondent for the assembly typically will read a few thank-you letters from missionaries and preachers who have received financial support from the assembly.  Several of the men will lead the congregation in prayer for various needs.  The assembly will then conduct a bible study on a portion of scripture or specific subject.  One person will give a short synopsis of the topic and then the remaining time is an open forum to compare ideas on the meaning of the chapter.  This is the forum to learn bible doctrine, ask questions, and consult commentaries or dictionaries. 
  5. Sunday school classes are typically offered on Sunday mornings during the same time period as the ministry meeting.  Very often families who are not part of the assembly get their first impression of the assembly meetings through their children.  The goal of a Sunday school is to plant the gospel message into young minds that might not have any other source for their spiritual knowledge.
  6. The elders of an assembly meet periodically to pray, discuss the needs of the people in the assembly, schedule “house calls” for infirmed believers, plan the assembly calendar and discuss other matters.

What type of church government exists at the Gospel Hall?

The leadership of the church features servant-leaders called elders.  According to the Bible in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 2, the men who lead a church must be of good moral character, able to teach the bible and care about the people of the church.  These leaders are ultimately responsible for the doctrine taught in the church, the integrity of the use of funds and pastoral care of the church.

The men who serve as elders are recognized in their role by informal consensus of the church by their pattern of living.  Elders usually serve as “unofficial” elders for years before being recognized for their work.  That is, he teaches, encourages, mentors, supports and cares for people long before his elder status is recognized as “official”.

This method of recognition is based on the words in 1 Timothy 3 verses 1 and 6  “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work”.  It is a work, not a position.  “Not a novice…” means he is proven trustworthy to the other people of the assembly.

Is the Gospel Hall part of a denomination?

No.  Each Gospel Hall building is owned and maintained by the local church that meets there.  Although a loose link of friendship exists between many of these churches, there is no central office or membership organization to report statistics, finances or doctrinal creed statements. There is no official list of assemblies.

The historical heritage shared at the Gospel Hall comes from the early 1800’s United Kingdom group known as the Plymouth Brethren. Some historical information about early Plymouth Brethren can be found at http://www.brethrenonline.org/. There are many other brethren history sites, some of which are here http://dmoz.org/Society/Religion_and_Spirituality/Christianity/Denominations/Plymouth_Brethren/  

Each assembly is a unique story of the people who were saved in a community because of sound gospel preaching.  No one history defines the entire group of assemblies worldwide.  So while the Plymouth Brethren of England may be defined as the starting point for the movement, there are others who were similar.  The assemblies represented on this page take their history from men in Scottland.  See the history section of the online book Gathering Unto His Name for more details.

Where can I find a Gospel Hall?

You can look at the section called Assembly Directory on this site for North American assemblies of believers.

Some other directories for assemblies include:

Who are Open Brethren and Exclusive Brethren?

For a history student, the terms “Exclusive” and “Open” refer to groups of assemblies who have formed lines of membership based on doctrinal differences.  The "open" brethren believe that each assembly (church) is an independent entity.  Each group handles its business of teaching, finances and receiving new members as an independent action from other assemblies. 

The "exclusives" believe that since each assembly is part of the body of Christ, in order to maintain unity of the body, a decision rendered by one assembly needs to be recognized by all others in order to maintain the fellowship of the body.  The practical results of their views are chronicled in the various books and articles about the Brethren but you will not find their story here.  Exclusive assemblies often use the name “Gospel Hall” for their building, but these assemblies have very little relationship to the assemblies listed on this site. You can read about the exclusive brethren on their own web site at http://www.theexclusivebrethren.com/ 

Is a Gospel Hall part of the “exclusive brethren” or “open brethren”?

Most of the assemblies listed on this site could be called “conservative open brethren”.  Exclusive assemblies often use the name “Gospel Hall” for their building, but these assemblies have very little relationship to the assemblies listed on this site. 

The Gospel Halls are “open” in the sense that any person may join the fellowship who has experienced salvation from his/her sin through faith in Christ Jesus.  It is also required that a Christian's life and beliefs conforms to the general pattern of godly New Testament living.  Believers who are unknown to the elders of an assembly are welcome to the fellowship if they first have a meeting with elders to discuss their standing in regards to salvation, relationships with others and their standing on doctrines of the bible.

The Gospel Halls are "open" in the sense that each assembly is independent.  That is to say, a decision made in one assembly does not need to be ratified or reviewed by other assemblies.

The Gospel Halls are “exclusive” in the sense that a person may not join the fellowship if their beliefs and life reputation are either known to be in error or unknown to the assembly.  A person may attend assembly gatherings as a visitor, but is not invited to speak from the platform, pray publicly, contribute financially or share the bread and wine at the Lord’s Supper. 

The Gospel Halls are “exclusive” in the sense that unity and fellowship between assemblies is maintained by sharing common doctrines.  For example, if one assembly began to promote speaking in tongues or promoted a teaching for a works-based salvation, other assemblies would no longer cooperate with them in evangelism, conducting confereces or by providing financial help when needs arise. 

The majority of "open brethren" assemblies in North America meet in a building named “Gospel Chapel”.  These assemblies share much of the same doctrine as a Gospel Hall, but may have a less direct approach in gospel preaching and some may have an open policy of fellowship with all other churches in their community. Outside of North America and in other languages, there is a variety of names applied to buildings for groups that meet in a similar manner. 

More information

You can find teaching, news from various assemblies at these publications

You can read another FAQ about the brethren at http://www.brethrenonline.org/faqs/Brethren.htm 

Who wrote this FAQ?

Shad David Sluiter is the author and site manager for http://www.gospelhall.org/.  You may send feedback on the contact form.  Since no official brethren headquarters exists, there will be different opinions about the accuracy and tone of language used in these answers.  I believe many assemblies who meet in North American Gospel Halls will agree with the statements on these pages.  Your mileage may differ depending on the city where you live.