Sunday, June 7, 2009

Church #1

We went to church this morning at Covenant UMC, which is right around the corner from us...a 2 minute drive.  It's a modern church, built in the 80's.  I'd call it a medium to large church - certainly not a mega-church, but thriving and active.  It has a large academic wing which we didn't go into, a fellowship hall area, and a decent sized sanctuary.  The sanctuary is fairly contemporary, but with classic pews.  They have a screen in the front, but the projector is not celing mounted, so I think it's fairly new.  They have 3 services - 8:30, 9:45, and 11.  The 9:45 is contemporary.  We decided to try the 11:00 traditional service.

There were a lot of things that we didn't like.  There was a choir area but no choir (I assume because it's summer).  So when they played the anthem, it was just music, no singer.  Which was a little strange because it came quickly after the prelude, so it was like music, hymn, more music, then offering (more music)...all without singing (except for the hymn).  There was a guest preacher who talked about how old people are wise and favored by God.  It was fine, except he made the point in 5-10 minutes, then went on for another 15 about the same thing.  Kelly and I both spaced out.  He did have media (pictures on the screen) to go with it, but we actually found that to be distracting.

There was communion which was slightly awkward because we didn't know how they did it.  It was at the alter rail and they served the elements directly to you, in a somewhat random fashion.  We were looking at the people next to us to see if everyone ate together or on their own - turned out to be on your own and then people stood up randomly.  It seemed slightly chaotic to me.  Oh also, there was no kneeling pad - just a rug - and I didn't realize that so i bashed my knee when i first knelt down.

One other strange moment was the "Celebration of Stewardship".  Before they collected the offering, a lady walked up front (from the stewardship team), said maybe 10 words, told us to read a quote about stewardship in the bulletin and then called for the ushers to collect the offering.  I thought it was odd that she would come up - they already had a pastor, the liturgist, 
and a guest preacher.  Made things kinda jumpy.

Finally, they had another person who was leading the singing.  But by leading, all he was doing was conducting.  I don't know about anyone else, but it wasn't helpful at all to me.  I was just listening to the organ and following that - which would sometimes be at a different spot than him.   They had him, an organist, and a pianist.  Excessive? I also felt like the order of service was a bit odd - possibly just because it was different than I was used to.  Here's what it was:

Welcome / Announcements
Call To Worship
Hymn (Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart)
Celebration of Christian Community (aka Sharing of the Peace, greeting neighbors)
Anthem ( No singing or words)
Celebration of Stewardship (Offering - included the doxology and prayer to bless offering)
Communion (Included a FAST prayer for people in need based on prayer cards.  Also the Lord's prayer)
Closing Hymn

Overall, I wasn't all that impressed, but we agreed we would go back and try again next week when there isn't a guest preacher (the pastor was there, he just didn't do the message).  We'll see if it's any better next time.

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