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.”