It has been an unusual month as I have preached in 4 very different congregations. Obviously each has its strengths and weaknesses, but all were meaningful times of worship.
The first was a suburban church that has been struggling the last few years. The facaility was built in the 1990′s. The congregation was about 130 or so. They were mostly empty nesters, with a few families with children. The worship style was blended, with an emphasis on the 1970′s and 80′s. They used a piano, guitars, saxophone and song leaders. They had some traditional elements as well- call to worship, pastoral prayer, responsive reading from the Westminster Catechism and a benediction.
The second was a smaller suburban church of about 50. There seemed to be a relatively even age distribution. Musically they were also blended, but drew from the 90′s and 2000′s. The only instrument was a piano and they had some song leaders. They had similar traditional elements. Though smaller, they sang louder (or at least it filled up the room better). They were a bit less reserved, yet more formal in their dress.
The third was an urban church of about 100 that met in an old theater. The building had lots of character with the old brick walls. It was darker, with lights on the stage area. It was decidedly upbeat, with more of a free church worship style. The worship band was very good and included keyboards, electric guitar, bass, and drums in addition to the song leaders. The congregation was multi-ethnic, but the songs drew largely from the last 2 decades. The people tended to be younger.
The fourth was also an inner city church of about 50, which met in an old church building. It had lots of character, like a small cathedral. It was nice to sit in pews. It was also multi-ethnic. It was also a less structured service, but they also recited the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer to keep in touch with our heritage. The worship team was a guitarist, electric bass and 2 singers. The music focused primarily on the holiness and grace of God, drawing on music from the last decade.
It is wonderful to see the rich variety of congregations, facilities, and worship styles. Too often we get stuck in our own little world. I’ve enjoyed being enriched by the Body of Christ as I sought to enrich them with the Word of God. It is encouraging to see God at work in a variety of situations.