Examining a Few Practices

After two back-to-back posts with comments turned off, I thought I would have a more open topic to discuss.

I recently disparaged the idea of running a church as a business. I don’t want to get into that, but I do think it would be interesting to discuss some of the formal and informal practices of our church. Just four topics, and none of them have anything to do with music.

1. Do you take notes over the sermon? Why? What, if anything, do you think this demonstrates about your understanding of what church is for and what sermons are for?

2. Is there an American flag (or other national flag, if you are not from the USA) in your church? Why? What do you think about this?

3. Do families stay together for worship? Do infants go to the nursery? Do children go to “children’s church”? Do families sit together, or do the teenagers sit as a group? How welcome would infants and toddlers be? What do you think this indicates about the nature and purpose of the corporate gathering of the church?

4. What sort of formal liturgy, if any, does your church have? Do you recite any historic creed, the Lord’s Prayer, or follow any other pattern beyond the “three songs and a sermon” model? What significance do you think a liturgy has? Is it good or bad?

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5 Responses to Examining a Few Practices

  1. Karl Thienes says:

    1) No. Sermons are not intended merely for intellectual stimulation, but for spiritual edification. And they shouldn’t take the place of the worship of God and the reception of the sacraments, so they are (usually) less than 20 minutes.

    2) No. The liturgy is a participation in the heavenly worship. And there ain’t no national flags there!

    3) Everyone worships together and stands together. “Sunday School” is always held after the Liturgy.

    4) We wrote the Liturgy. Enough said! :)

  2. MegLogan says:

    1. I occassionally take notes of my Pastor’s sermon. I do this because I tend to remember and understand better when I both hear and write. I believe a sermon is for the edification of the body, and since I am a part of the body and I am more deeply edified by listening AND writing, I take notes. Furthermore, I like to use the notes later if there is a scripture I can’t remember exactly, notes help me to find them. (Needless to say taking notes is personal preference, and not expected in my church.)

    2.No, there is no flag in my church, neither the “Christian” flag nor the American flag. I do not know why or why not, but it doesn’t seem necessary to me, and it also wouldn’t bother me if there was one.

    3. Families stay together during worship which is usually about 30 minutes long. During this time we join as a body in worshiping and praisign the Lord through song, and we make tithe and offering, and hear a brief “sermon” or edification from our pastor. Then children are released to separate classes. Separate classes because our church is too big for joined classes, and the easiest way to separate is age. Furthermore separation by age allows for the easiest presentation of the gospel lesson at specific age capabilities. Generally families sit together, but recently teens have begun sitting together with their older mentors from the youth group. They are in service however. Infants and toddlers are not really appreciated in service, the reason we prefer this is because most infants and toddler’s are not well trained and are unruly or unable to be still and quiet. (We do accept and appreciate those youngins who are still and quiet in service.) Of course the reason we do not appreciate the noise of toddler’s is because the adults are unable to concentrate, and unable to grow into the maturity of Christ through the service. *Kids are a distraction when you are trying to hear a sermon! (Oh dear, I said it!)This is CERTAINLY NOT to say that we think kids are in general a distraction from the things of adults. On the contrary our church HIGHLY values the raising of the next generation for Christ, and counts children as a blessing. I could go on and on about that issue…

    4. Formal liturgy. Well, I will say I think this is one area that my church lacks in. We have a statement of faith on the counter when you come into the entry of the church. Other than that there is no formal liturgy. Personally I do not think that absentmindedly reciting a liturgy is useful. But I would like to see more overt comprehensive discussion of the Apostle’s Creed, and some other things. We dont recite the Lord’s Prayer, but we all believe it, and have had sermons on it. Regarding pattern, we are more lead by the Spirit, organized but flexible. For example, we generally have praise and worship, then tithing, then greet, then sermon. But last week at the end my pastor had a Q & A and on Sunday the whole church stood around him and prayed for him, because one woman was faithful to the Lord’s leading and approached the pulpit to pray for Pastor.

    Well, Hope that is clear.


  3. Steve says:

    I’ll sound off..
    1. I tend to take notes, but in the margins of my Bible, not on a separate sheet or notepad. This helps me gain a better understanding of the context of the passages. Since I teach a Home Bible Study, these notes help me to clarify the subjects/topic for my “students”.
    2. We have an American flag and a Christian flag. I don’t see this as an issue; aren’t we called to support (not quite the right word) those that have been placed in positions of leadership? The kids in church all know and recite the Pledge of Allegiance (and know what it means).
    3. This is a loaded question. Infants go to the nursery and children under 4th grade go to “Power Hour” (children’s church). Otherwise, families tend to sit together, but there are groups, too. Some teens sit together, the young adults/singles sit together, etc. I would say most people prefer that the younger kids and infants go to their respective locations. It is much less distracting for those in the sanctuary, and the kids are being taught the same biblical precepts on their level of understanding.
    4. No formal liturgy in my church, no historic creed, no recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. Not sure why this is, but I would imagine that it hsa to do with the fact that most people don’t take the time to try to understand what they are reciting. As for the significance, I’ve attended churches in the past that recited the Apostles’ Creed and sang the Doxology every week. Unless someone (the pastor?) takes the time to explain them, there is no edification of the church body, and people do it because “that is the way it has always been done”.

  4. Rob Smith says:

    Hi, some observations from a British evangelical Baptist church:
    1. I don’t take notes, because a sermon isn’t a lecture; I want to hear God speaking, and I can’t write and listen at the same time (never could, even at college). It’s a personal thing though; other people do take notes. The sermons are recorded so if I want to study them I can do so “offline”.
    2. Definately not: anything more than a nice flower arrangement (even a Christian banner) would be considered a distraction and bordering on the idolatrous. In any case we’re British, so tend to find flags rather embarassing.
    3. Very young children go into a creche during the sermon. Once children are school age they’re expected to stay. The morning service is billed as a “family” service, and includes a short address to the children.
    4. “Hymn sandwich”. Someone once said to me, rather facetiously, that we don’t have a book of liturgy because the format of the service is so invariable that we don’t need one. We do think its important that God is the sole focus of our our worship. The preaching of the Word is central; at around 35 minutes, the sermon occupies almost half of the service.

  5. Patrick says:

    I’ll throw in my church’s practices as well… large Methodist church in Dallas (proper):
    1) I do take notes so I can go back and find more information on things that I either agree strongly or disagree strongly with so I can make sure that my stance is biblically supported and informed.

    2) No US or Christian flags. I’m in favor of the lack of flags as a matter of course, but it wouldn’t offend me if they were there. We bring them in on Scout Sunday…

    3) We have children in the congregation, but there is a children’s church as an option for them. Infants are rarely in the service, but appear on occasion if the parents bring them in. We’ve had balloons bouncing off the ceiling before, and the minister always says “isn’t it great when we’ve got a circus here” to defuse any grumbling before it starts.

    4) It’s fairly high-church where I’m at. We go through the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, and whatever other creeds are indicated by the Lectionary.

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