Yesterday, we shared in the service of Framlingham Baptist Community church which meets in a local school refectory. There is no current minister so it was led by various members. A music group accompanied the powerpoint screen songs. The informality was obvious from the outset as we sat around tables with tea and coffee (which cooled off during the first group of songs!) After several members of the congregation gave spontaneous prayers of thanks, the main leader (an architect) led a time of reflection in which he went round many members of the group (there were about fifty of us) and gave thanks by name for every story of blessing present. It was amazingly personal yet sensitive with concern for confidentiality. Communion in the middle of the service was preceded by a catechism where the whole congregation answered a number of questions about the meaning of the Lord's Supper. The Advent sermon which followed proved to be highly imaginative with video and visuals.
As we came away, Carol and I commented on the extraordinary level of friendship and welcome that this village church had given us visitors. Perhaps being seated around tables with coffee at the outset encouraged such warmth. But what struck me most was the high quality of participation. I estimate that nearly half the congregation was involved either in leading or through prayers or stories during the service. I know that humans cannot discern levels of 'worship in spirit and in truth' (John 4:24) but here was a congregation that seemed to really belong together on God's mission. In honesty, meeting around tables with coffee is not how I prefer to begin worship. But, at times, it's good to have my preferences and prejudices rebuked!