For the past year I’ve been sharing occasional examples of orders of worship from Grace Fellowship Church, and have been doing so under the heading of How We Worshipped. Along the way I have received quite a few questions and requests for clarification. Today I’ve compiled a small list of answers to some of the most frequent.
Why don’t you take up a collection? We do, of course, allow and expect the members of the church to give, but we don’t formally take up a collection at this time (though we have in the past). Instead, we leave a basket on a table at the back and allow people to put their offerings in there as they see fit. We do this for a number of reasons, though none of them are based on any conviction that it’s wrong or unwise to take up a collection. Rather, this is simply how we’ve chosen to adapt to our unique context.
Here’s why we don’t take up a collection: First, the messaging of the culture around us is that churches are really only interested in your money, so by not asking for it and not passing a basket, we counter what many bring as a presupposition. Second, it expresses our confidence in the Lord’s provision. We pray and ask God to provide, then trust that he will. Third, the room we meet in is quite full and rather awkward for passing a basket, so this solution is a little more streamlined. However, there are lots of good reasons to take up a collection and it’s something we may do again in the future.
When do you celebrate Lord’s Supper? We celebrate Lord’s supper twice a month. Once each month we celebrate it at our morning service and the other at our evening service. When it falls during the morning it is typically quite compact since it comes near the end of a longer service; when it falls during the evening we tend to linger and have an increased focus on self-examination, repentance, and assurance.
How long is the service? We aim for 90 minutes from beginning to end and usually end up within plus or minus 10 minutes of that. This amount of time seems to bring balance between having a substantial service and ensuring it is not too long for young children to sit through or for nursery and pre-school volunteers to care for babies and toddlers.
How long are the sermons? We typically preach for around 45 minutes, which means the sermons take up about 50% of the total service time. We try to emphasize that there is no necessary correlation between a long sermon and a good one, and actually encourage younger preachers to preach shorter sermons so they can learn to prepare a tight 30 minutes rather than a rambling 45. Older preachers perhaps earn the right to go longer, but still need to check ourselves to ensure we aren’t being lazy in our preparation (which tends to lead to going to long).
How many people attend the church? We do not make it a habit to count heads on a Sunday morning, so don’t have firm numbers. We meet in a Christian school and the gym seats 199. That room is almost always full. We also have an overflow room with a video feed that seats a further 40 or so, and it is often full as well. There are usually 50 or so children and volunteers in the childcare programs. We have joined the school in a construction project that includes a new and bigger gym that will fit us all and give us room the grow (as well as provide some permanent office space for our pastors). Lord willing, we will move in around the new year.
Do you offer Sunday school? No. We have children’s classes during our Sunday evening service and youth group on Wednesday evening, so that is when we offer age-specific training. We also provide topical teaching during our Sunday evening services and other opportunities (book studies, Bible studies, men’s groups, women’s groups, etc) through the week.
What do you do for childcare? We have nursery (birth to one year) and preschool programs (two to three years) that are staffed by volunteers and which run the full length of the service. We also offer a kindergarten program for four- and five-year-olds that begin immediately before the sermon. Children six and up remain in the service. We also offer care for the duration of the service for people with significant disabilities so their parents can worship without concern or interruption.