Thinking Out Loud

September 20, 2009

Coffee Time in the Middle of the Service

Filed under: Church, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 3:39 pm

coffee time

When I picture the first century Christians meeting together, I don’t picture rigid formality.   For example, I don’t picture the chairs being in rows, even though there’s something about the synagogue seating plan where the women were on one side and the men on the other.   I guess my mental image is more of an “upper room” kind of scene, and I can almost hear the baby crying towards the back.  And we know Eutychus was sitting in the window ledge when Paul spoke, which would greatly concern the insurance companies today.

I also realize that there is a whole history — some would say a whole theology — of fellowship around a meal table.   It’s an Eastern thing to be sure, but it’s also a very Christian thing.   The whole “love feast” concept.   Or the idea that the first communion service was, among other things, a supper.

But I can’t figure out the logic of churches who are taking the former pre-service coffee time, or post-service coffee time, and making it a mid-service coffee time.   We’ve been in a number of churches now where this is done and it hasn’t worked for us.   Today I spoke with a couple who — after three years which included some time in small group leadership — found it wasn’t working for them also.

Here are some reasons:

  1. People are busy.  They make an effort to attend what they mentally budget as a 70-80 minute service and they expect 70-80 minutes of prepared content, usually meaning spoken or sung content.   It can be that the leadership has prepared it, or that individuals have brought gifts to the service that will be shared somewhat spontaneously.    But it’s content nonetheless.   Not ‘break time.’
  2. People are visiting.   There’s nothing like standing on the sidelines when everyone else is catching up on the latest gossip when you’re a visitor and nobody wants to connect with you.   The couple in my above conversation found it hard to move past this point.   We know the feeling.   This ‘fellowship time’ could happen before or after.   Instead,this becomes ‘down time.’
  3. People are literal.   They trust that when you say ‘five minutes’ you mean 300 seconds.   Not ten minutes.   Ten minutes is just too long for a time that is supposed to be dedicated to worship and teaching.   This is not the same as my first point; this has to do with expectations.   You said ‘five’ and you realized — as if for the first time — that you can’t serve that number of people down that much hot coffee that fast.   So as a result it went ‘over time.’

Has your church joined the growing number that have subscribed to this trend?   What are your thoughts on it?    Do some of you reap benefits from this worship order scheduling?  Or do you see other liabilities beyond the ones I listed?

1 Comment »

  1. Most of the Churches that I attented,the coffee breaks were between Sunday School and Church of before church.It lasted 10-15 minutes.

    Comment by mike42lan — September 22, 2009 @ 8:28 am

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