Colorado Church Worships around Tables, Not in Rows

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There are no pews or rows of chairs in the sanctuary of Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Greeley, Colo. Instead, people worship while sitting around tables in groups of eight to 10.

The church calls this practice “Table Fellowship.” According to elder Brian Fowler, “None of us in the church can ever imagine going back to pews.”

While in many churches people sit the same place every Sunday out of habit, at Fellowship it is expected. The same eight to 10 people sit together at a table for approximately one year, forming a small group.

The service has all the normal elements of worship, but before the service ends the groups are given the opportunity to share their response to the sermon and answer questions provided. Each table has a trained table facilitator who guides the group for their year together.

The Table Fellowship practice began two and a half years ago as part of the church’s desire to create a stronger community. “The pace at which people are living, the fullness of their lives—all of those things squeeze the idea of small groups. We were having a heck of a time getting people into small groups,” said Rev. Don Orange.

The practice was also meant to strengthen the community, with less emphasis on church leaders. “We have a tendency to focus on the preacher and his or her message, or the worship leader and his or her music,” explained Orange. “What I’m hoping to do through Table Fellowship is to put the focus back on how God is at work in our lives, not what a great inspirational preacher we have.”

Fowler agreed. “We learn not only from Don but from one another. It’s been a leap of faith that’s turned out to be a blessing for all of us.”

About the Author

Sarah Boonstra is the Banner's regional news correspondent for classes Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone.

See comments (4)

Comments

What a wonderful idea!! It kills two birds with one stone: Giving a platform for people to process the teaching and God's Word together, in a small group format that has the same members every week.

One question that I do have: What about new people that come to the worship services? Do they form a new group or do they join an already existing group?

In answer to your question Josh, the leadership has established elders who seek out visitors and introduce themselves. There are table groups who are always on the ready for new people and the visitors are offered a table of their own or the opportunity to join an existing group.

Josh,

We also practice Table Fellowship at Peace Community CRC in Houston, TX. In our case, we have a table especially for visitors. My wife and I (I'm the pastor) host that table.

We've found that in addition to the teaching/learning aspects and building community, this approach has significantly help us to integrate new folks into the life of the church.

Fellowship CRC (see the article), New Life CRC (Spring, TX) and Peace are all practicing Table Fellowship. All three churches are part of Classis Rocky Mountain.

At Shallow Lake Community Church in Ontario Canada, We have been using a setup like this one. We still have some pews at the sides, but we also have some very comfy couches for people with small kids and babies along with our round tables that seat 6 to 8.

It tends to be a welcome atmosphere for anyone just coming in, and for people who have been there forever. We also have coffee, tea and maybe some cookies or doughnuts as well in the sanctuary during the service for anyone who wants it.

It lends a feeling of a living room, or a coffee house setting with Jesus at the centre of it all.

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