Sunday was the last full day of "The Weekender" and should be called "A Day in the Life of Capitol Hill Baptist Church." And it was a full day! The morning started by attending their Sunday school hour, which they call Core Seminars. Everyone meets in one part of the sanctuary, someone welcomes everyone, and then each teacher explains what they are teaching. Then they give everyone five minutes to get to their class and it begins.
I attended a core seminar on Christianity Explained, a course designed to walk through large parts of the Gospel of Mark and explain Christianity. It was a good class, good young teacher who engaged most people in the class, and most everyone participated.
Then came the worship service. I would describe their style of worship as somewhat liturgical. It lasted just over two hours, which was great to see, since many have told me that our 1.5 hours is too long. The service was mixed with Scripture readings (four of them) and designated prayer times (four of them). It all lead to the sermon, where Mark Dever preached on 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:18. After the sermon, we sang one of my favorite new songs that I hope to sing at CBC sometime soon--All I Have Is Christ. One of the best parts of the service was the time of baptism at the end. They baptized three individuals. They each gave a very powerful testimony and then were baptized. One unique aspect of their church is they end each service with a moment of silence. Everyone sits down after the final prayer and sit there reflecting upon the service for about two minutes. Then the piano starts to play and everyone begins to interact with each other. Very interesting.
I was one of the select few who went to lunch with Mark Dever at his house. We had a great time of interacting and asking questions about the Weekender and different aspects of our ministry.
The evening service was unlike anything I have been part of in the past. He gave away books. He had many different people come to the front and share aspects of their personal ministries. After each person shared, he would assign someone in the audience to pray for that ministry. There was a very short sermon (15 minutes), it was more of a reflection of a short text than a full sermon. It seemed as though the evening service was designed more for care and relationship building than anything else.
After the evening service, they had a Members meeting. They dismiss anyone who is not a member (except all of us men there for the Weekender) and they had a 2+ hour members meeting. They voted in new members & voted out old members (who were going to different churches). Let me just say, they take membership very seriously. And that was encouraging and convicting to see.
After that, the staff & interns of the church meet every week to evaluate the day's services. They talked about the order of service, the music selected, how people sang, and how the sermon was delivered and structured. Everything was up for evaluation. It is an incredible display of grace by Dever to open himself up to review each and every week of his sermons. He leads the way in humility with his staff.
That was their Sunday. As I sat there, I remembered one thing that one of their associate pastors said during the weekend. They design their Sunday day of worship in order to confront nominal Christianity. If you want to be lazy in your Christianity, then you will not want to be a member at this church. They take it very seriously.
Tomorrow, I will share some final conclusions about this conference. What I learned and why you might like to go at some point.