I remember the weekend that I interviewed at Seacoast Church… my first experience in their Saturday night service caught me a little off guard; the service began with worship… no surprise there… but it seemed that the music stopped just as quickly as it had started, after just two songs. What? Hold on… this might be a deal-breaker, and we hadn’t even sat down to talk much yet! First and foremost I am a worshiper. I love to sing and praise God! I had heard about churches that only do 2-3 songs, but I could never picture myself working for one! I decided not to pass judgment right away… I figured I’d sit through the entire service before I made up my mind…and I’m so glad I did! Almost a year later, I can say with great confidence that this is the best job I have ever had!
Seacoast has a format unlike any church that I have ever been to: We start with two songs, generally upbeat, to shake a little of the week’s crust off… then maybe a couple of announcements, a short time to meet some people and then right into the week’s message. Once the sermon is complete, we enter into a what we call response time, which is an intentional time where our congregations (we’re multi-site) are encouraged to take some time to reflect on the message that they have just heard. We usually have three songs during this time that have been chosen to go along with the message. People can sit quietly in their seats and reflect or pray… or sing along. I have found this time to be a great way to digest what I have just heard and pray about how I can apply it to my life.
What I love most about response time is that no one is in a hurry to leave. Our people have really embraced this pattern in our services. I’ve been in so many churches that have a typical format where all of the worship music is at the beginning, followed by the message… and I’ve been in so many church services where half of the people were just staring at their watches and waiting for that last fill-in for the sermon outline sheet so they could cram it into the back ot their bible and forget about the message before they get out of the parking lot. I really feel that having some time to process the message and respond to God at the end of the service helps me to retain so much more of what I have heard and even want to explore more into the bible about the topics.
What is your church’s “format” and does it work for you?
(For anyone who would like a peek into how we do things, we have an internet campus that holds services much like those in our campuses at 9:30 & 11:15 am Eastern every Sunday: http://internet.seacoast.org)