View Poll Results: Do you allow food and/or drink in your sanctuary

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  • Yes, during worship.

    28 51.85%
  • Yes, during times other than worship services.

    17 31.48%
  • Yes, but we allow drinks only.

    5 9.26%
  • No, we do not allow drinks in the sanctuary.

    11 20.37%
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Thread: Food or drink in the sanctuary

  1. #1
    Senior Member Roy Richardson's Avatar

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    Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Does your church allow food or drink in the sanctuary room at any time? During the morning worship service? At times other than the worship service? During SS or small group classes? Overnight events for teens or children?

    Our church meets in a converted office building, and it is not our permanent home (we are renting). The issue has surfaced because a SS class that meets on Wed night would like to have snacks in their class and they meet in that room.

    We recently attended a district missions service at the Valparaiso church and they served spaghetti on a Sunday night in their sanctuary, which caught some people by surprise. I'm sympathetic to both sides, but my mind ultimately goes to space utilization vs. making the room a shrine that can only be used in certain ways on certain days.

    I know this can be divisive, but I'm seeking some wisdom here.

    Thanks

    Roy

  2. #2
    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Jon Twitchell's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    We've not made an issue of it.... which means that we allow food/drink... although most people don't. We do try to keep the kids contained in the coffee room with any food... but adults can take it where they like. On the other hand, one of my volunteer custodians was mentioning to me that the carpet has some coffee stains that won't come up. :shrug:

    If we replaced the carpet anytime soon, I suspect that we'd put a moratorium on food/drink in the sanctuary.

    For me, it's not a spiritual issue... just one of practicality and caring for the facility.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Hans Deventer's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    We don't have a clear distinction between the sanctuary and the place where coffee etc can be found. It's one and the same area.

    Also, we have natural stone on the floor, no carpet.
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    Senior Member Marsha Lynn's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Our sanctuary is used only for Sunday morning worship and we sit in old-fashioned pews so it's not really refreshment friendly. There was a time when it would have been a huge issue. Our fellowship hall was separated from the church building by a "breezeway" when it was built in the 70s as a way of isolating food activities (and odors). However, the fellowship hall is far more economical to heat and cool and over the years almost every large gathering other than Sunday morning worship has migrated out there. The breezeway is now well-insulated and the doors on both ends are open when things are happening in both buildings. It's more a matter of practicality and custom than conviction that keeps food and drinks in the back building. I doubt you could find even a handful of people who could explain the reasoning behind the old conviction against having food in the church building.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Jeremy D. Scott's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans Deventer View Post
    Also, we have natural stone on the floor, no carpet.
    That sounds awesome. Jealous I am.

    We have a very traditional sanctuary (pictures) and we have no standing policy (that I know of!). People sometimes eat in our sanctuary and often drink. We have spills, no doubt. Doesn't seem to be a big deal. You can see in the pictures that some areas have carpet and some are wood flooring.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Our sanctuary is rearranged for large fellowship events, like our Harvest Dinner and New Year's Eve Party as it is larger than the Fellowship Hall. During Worship services, a few people bring in their coffee and I may have noticed a stray donut hole or two over the years. In general, we try to have the kids finish their snacks in the fellowship hall, but it is not a huge issue.

    There have been complaints by a few individuals that people bringing coffee into the sanctuary is disrespectful or irreverent, but we have not made an issue of it.

    I personally start many mornings in prayer in the sanctuary and a cup of hot coffee is a part of the ritual, particularly in the winter months as that area is not heated during the week! I do try to remember to evacuate my coffee cup from the sanctuary before worship on Sunday mornings.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Kazimiera Fraley's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    If there is a policy nobody has mentioned it to me. I frequently drink Tea as I prepare for service on Sunday Mornings.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Charlene Clevenger's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    We used to have a no food or drink in the sanctuary policy, but these days a few people bring their coffee in during the service. It's no big deal for me, but some don't like it. We used to have a family that really didn't like having food in the building at all, but they are going to another church now. Another Naz church in town meets in a multi-purpose room. I've been there for an evening service where after the last prayer people begin moving chairs and tables, and within a few minutes they are serving food in the same room.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Diane Likens's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Interesting!

    50% said "yes, during worship"
    50% said "yes, during times other than worship"
    25% said "no"

    How'd that math work out?
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Linda Bechtold's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Going to the large non-denominational churches we took our coffee and snack in the sanctuary during the services and I loved that. Now we are back to the a traditional Nazarene church and I hate not having my coffee or tea to sip during the sermon.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy D. Scott View Post
    That sounds awesome. Jealous I am.

    We have a very traditional sanctuary (pictures) and we have no standing policy (that I know of!). People sometimes eat in our sanctuary and often drink. We have spills, no doubt. Doesn't seem to be a big deal. You can see in the pictures that some areas have carpet and some are wood flooring.
    Thanks for the pictures. Good looking Sanctuary.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Paul DeBaufer's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    When I was in Grass Valley we converted our Fellowship Hall into the childrens' room and the sanctuary became the Family Room. We offered coffee, donuts, fruit from half hour before service began until a while after service. People were free to go get something at any time. Worked out well. There were some complaints from people who had been around a long time and remembered the room as a formal sanctuary, but they soon got over them.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Laughlin View Post
    Thanks for the pictures. Good looking Sanctuary.
    I just wanted to ditto my thanks for the pictures and agree that the sanctuary looks great... but it would probably drive me nuts.

    We definitely allow food and drinks in the main room (call it a "sanctuary" or "auditorium" or whatever). For the first 9 years of our church's existence, we met in a banquet hall with a mix of tables and rows of chairs, and our free breakfast bar was right in the room with us. People could get coffee or donuts or fruit or whatever anytime they wanted.

    For the past year we've been in converted retail space -- still leased, not owned, but it's ours all the time. We still have the mix of tables and rows, but the breakfast bar has moved out into the small foyer. Still, the expectation is that people will grab their food and drink out there and bring them into the service with them.

    Since I don't have a photo handy, I'll just tell you: we have 11 tables of 5 chairs and 3 rows of 8-9 chairs, I think. We can seat 75-85 per service, if my memory is correct. Right now we have around 75-100 on a Sunday, including kids, which means we have 20-50 adults in each of our two services. It works pretty well.
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  14. #14
    Host Book, Movie & CE forums Ryan Scott's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    We have a policy of no food or drink in the sanctuary. That being said, every week you'll see three or four people bring their coffee in (and I've never heard anything said to anyone about it). We've also shown the occasional movie in the sanctuary, with popcorn and snacks provided.

    It seems like so long as everything is cleaned up afterwards no one cares too much.
    ...just my $.02.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Peggy Gray's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Hmm. Had to think about that one. We obviously "allow" it, but I can't say we especially encourage it.

    I'm so old that I remember going to church with my grandmother wearing a hat, white gloves, and hose. The men all wore suits and ties. If one had a throat tickle, one might discreetly slip a hard candy out of one's purse or pocket, quietly unwrap it, and slip it into one's mouth. Certainly children didn't have baggies of Cheerios to keep them quiet, and nobody had a big jug of Starbuck's or a bottle of grapefruit-lime vitamin water. I'm always startled when I see the coffee mugs come into the sanctuary. Not deeply offended; just startled. (My kids had Cheerios)

    I can't say that I prefer to see snacks and such in the sanctuary during a service. Maybe for a Bible study, but somehow I haven't become comfortable with the worship service being that casual. Can't see myself sitting there eating a peanut butter & jelly sandwich during the message. I wouldn't disallow it, though.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Roy Richardson's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by Diane Likens View Post
    Interesting!

    50% said "yes, during worship"
    50% said "yes, during times other than worship"
    25% said "no"

    How'd that math work out?
    I allowed multiple answers to the question

  17. #17
    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Richardson View Post
    I allowed multiple answers to the question
    And I only checked "Yes, during worship," though obviously we also allow it during times other than worship, too. I hope that doesn't throw off the survey!

  18. #18
    Senior Member Jim Franklin's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Only on Saturday nights when we roll up the carpeting for our weekly dance during the Lawrence Welk program. Don't ask what kind of bubbly we serve.
    Last edited by Jim Franklin; November 29th, 2010 at 03:13 PM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Glenda Harvey's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Our sanctuary is also our fellowship hall. During Wednesday night Bible Study we have a dinner before we get started. Some people may still be eating when the worship and Bible Study portion starts. During Sunday Services I have seen people bring in food and drinks into the Sanctuary and no one stops them. I have started bringing water in with me because I tend to develop a tickle in my throat during the service and it is less disruptive for me to take a drink from a water bottle instead of coughing or getting up to get a drink from the fountain outside the sanctuary.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Bill Morrison's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    I'll just quote a Nazarene that is even older and crankier than I am: "Can't people forget their stomachs for just one hour a week and worship God?"

    BILL
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  21. #21
    Senior Member Wilson Deaton's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    During an NTS class one year, a special seminar class "guest professor" told a story of his pastoral minstry days. He was pastoring a chuch that didn't want food in the building itself. They wanted to build an unconnected fellowship hall next door. Two elderly ladies seemed to be the primary vocalists on the issue and everyone else seemed to just want to keep them happy. The pastor, however, saw it as a ministry issue... He directed the two ladies' attention to the Ladies Room and pointed out, "You'll go in there and do that in the church but you won't eat?"

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  22. #22
    Senior Member Bill Morrison's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by Wilson Deaton View Post
    During an NTS class one year, a special seminar class "guest professor" told a story of his pastoral minstry days. He was pastoring a chuch that didn't want food in the building itself. They wanted to build an unconnected fellowship hall next door. Two elderly ladies seemed to be the primary vocalists on the issue and everyone else seemed to just want to keep them happy. The pastor, however, saw it as a ministry issue... He directed the two ladies' attention to the Ladies Room and pointed out, "You'll go in there and do that in the church but you won't eat?"

    Wilson
    I see your good point. On the other hand, I think most of us would be upset if they did "that" in the sanctuary!

    BILL

  23. #23
    Senior Member Susan Unger's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Our sanctuary is our fellowship hall, so after church we will eat in there. During the AM service, I have seen people with cups of coffee in their hands. I don't recall seeing people with food though.
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    Site Manager G R 'Scott' Cundiff's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Twitchell View Post
    For me, it's not a spiritual issue... just one of practicality and caring for the facility.
    That sums it up for me too.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Roy Richardson's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Morrison View Post
    I'll just quote a Nazarene that is even older and crankier than I am: "Can't people forget their stomachs for just one hour a week and worship God?"

    BILL
    Does that include non-worship service times, or just the worship service(s).

  26. #26
    Senior Member John Reilly's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Twitchell View Post
    We've not made an issue of it.... which means that we allow food/drink... although most people don't. We do try to keep the kids contained in the coffee room with any food... but adults can take it where they like. On the other hand, one of my volunteer custodians was mentioning to me that the carpet has some coffee stains that won't come up. :shrug:

    If we replaced the carpet anytime soon, I suspect that we'd put a moratorium on food/drink in the sanctuary.

    For me, it's not a spiritual issue... just one of practicality and caring for the facility.
    Jon, We did replace the carpet in the sanctuary!!! And we thought the word was out on NO drinks in the sanctuary BUT OH NO!!!! The current young adult generation, whatever they are called, come walking into the worship service right into the newly carpeted sanctuary with their gourmet coffee lattees. I am glad they are there. One of them, no names will be mentioned, spilled their coffee in my newly carpeted office which is the young adult sunday school room. I am still glad they are there. SO when you recarpet your sanctuary you just might want to install a coffee bar to the right of the communion table!!!!
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  27. #27
    Senior Member Mike Schutz's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by John Reilly View Post
    One of them, no names will be mentioned, spilled their coffee in my newly carpeted office which is the young adult sunday school room.
    So, did you wait until he got home before you yelled at Chris?
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  28. #28
    Senior Member Roy Richardson's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by G R 'Scott' Cundiff View Post
    That sums it up for me too.
    so.....

    you are not in favor of food or drink in the sanctuary space, correct?

  29. #29
    Senior Member Bill Morrison's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Richardson View Post
    Does that include non-worship service times, or just the worship service(s).
    Certainly the worship service. I think that he (as well as I) would be much more open to it at non-worship times, especially in churches that have multi-purpose sanctinasiums!

    BILL
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  30. #30
    Host Fun & Prayer forums Gina Stevenson's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Well, I didn't feel too badly when (a surprise to me, but a nice one) learning that they did this when out in Phoenix ... coffee/whatever in the service. I've been one to have a water bottle/cup of some sort of liquid with me, anyway -- way before it was the "in" thing to do -- due to throat surgery leaving it configured not quite like it was; some parts more exposed to the air than they used to be, it gets dry. Would rather have water w/me than hurt/cough without it; that would be more distracting to people than just having the water and quietly sipping it when needed.

    Come to think of it, they would often, when it was missionary night, have tables instead of just chairs, and have the meal and then service all together ... same place.
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  31. #31
    Senior Member Roy Richardson's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by Gina Stevenson View Post
    Come to think of it, they would often, when it was missionary night, have tables instead of just chairs, and have the meal and then service all together ... same place.
    When we built a new building a few years back, we caught some flack from those who didn't want food in the sanctuary ( we built a sanctinasium building). When I explained to a few that spending $125 sq ft on a room that we can use 2-3 times per week vs. a room we can use every day of the week. The math seemed to trump most people's objections. We simply didn't have the $$ to build a dedicated sanctuary at that time. And they have mission dinners in the sanctuary, and graduation parties, and Thanksgiving dinners, and Seder suppers, and ....

    But that was a different church in a different town in a different time.
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  32. #32
    Senior Member Mike Schutz's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    It does seem that for some folks there is a specific issue about food, while for others it is a more general issue about the sanctuary as being a "sanctified" space, set aside for a specific purpose. I have found that while I would like to have a discussion about our theology here, most folks are not interested in that. Instead, they would prefer to talk about practicalities, or about respect and reverence, or about a welcoming environment.

    That being the case, it seems that the most important thing is for the church leadership to agree, and then to clearly communicate so that you don't have some folks who appoint themselves as "sanctuary police."

    In our setting, we don't make a big deal one way or the other. As Sunday school is after the worship service, we are not serving food and drinks before church. Some folks bring coffee with them to church in a covered travel mug, and that is not a big deal. After the service, there is a Sunday school class - almost exclusively senior adults - that meets in the sanctuary. Coffee and snacks for this class are served in an room adjacent to the sanctuary. These are the folks who would have the strongest opinion against bringing refreshments into the sanctuary - and while most eat their snack before returning to the sanctuary for class, a few bring their coffee with them. The person who cleans the sanctuary is a member of that class, and he told me "We have had a few spills, but we can clean them up right away. It's not a big deal."

    However, let the VBS team leave a mark on the walls from their decorations, or let someone's child write on a hymnal, and I have to deal with the Spanish Inquisition!
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  33. #33
    Senior Member Charlotte 'Mercer' Burton's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Schutz View Post
    However, let the VBS team leave a mark on the walls from their decorations, or let someone's child write on a hymnal, and I have to deal with the Spanish Inquisition!
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  34. #34
    Senior Member Mike Schutz's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    I didn't expect that!
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  35. #35
    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Jon Twitchell's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Schutz View Post
    I didn't expect that!
    Nobody does.

  36. #36
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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    You didn't provide a water only option. When we had one sanctuary/fellowship hall, we allowed food and drink during non service times. The new sanctuary/multipurpose room has a restriction of water only during all events but we don't kick anyone out who brings their coffee into service. For uniformity when we had Upward running in both areas, water only was the rule for both during Upward use. We also use our huge foyer for food/drink purposes cause it is prettier than the original sanctuary/fellowship area.

  37. #37
    Senior Member Steven Burton's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Personally I would prefer more of a food setting for any church service. To me that is the best way to get me to want to listen or even have some kind of communion with the people. The allotted time during the service is a joke like 5 minutes of hugs and hi s are you kidding me? I can not get to know people well like that. I would prefer a sit down with the break of bread (a meal together) each Sunday followed by a service. I am much more open and easier to get along with if there is more that just me setting in the pew and listen to a sermon. I really feel the need to actually spend time with the people in the church. The one Sunday night each month, I can not get comfortable and relax around the people. I remember as a kid having the after Sunday worship lunches periodically or after Sunday night worship and to be honest that was my favorite of being in the church where I actually got to have interaction with the people. I feel like now we just come go through the motion get the message and leave. I see no real communion in that.
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  38. #38
    Senior Member Mike Fraley's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazimiera Fraley View Post
    If there is a policy nobody has mentioned it to me. I frequently drink Tea as I prepare for service on Sunday Mornings.
    There are "No Food or Drink!" signs up on the doors to the sanctuary. However, it is not particularly enforced... especially by the senior pastor.

    I don't think that means she'll be installing fold-out tray tables into the backs of the pew or anything, but generally you will see someone with a travel mug or a Starbucks-style cup sitting in a pew.

    I tend to discourage drinks in the sanctuary as the spills often incite the church members to exclaim obscenities.
    Thanks Shea Zellweger - "thanks" for this post

  39. #39
    Site Manager G R 'Scott' Cundiff's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    From a practical point of view I'm struggling with how bringing a snack to the worship service works. Say a church offers donuts and coffee in their sanctimasium. It's worship time, so the seating is set up in rows for church. I have a couple of donuts and a nice hot cup of coffee balanced on my knee and I'm settled in for worship. Out comes the praise team and the first thing they say is, "Let's all stand and clap our hands as we worship the Lord together."

    What do I do with my coffee and donuts? I guess I turn around and put them on the seat, although hot coffee in a foam cup might not sit too well. All through the worship service I keep an eye on the cup, in fear of spilling it, and on the donuts, in fear that my neighbor might snatch one!

    Finally, worship is over and I retrieve my coffee and donuts. The coffee isn't as hot now and I'm ready to drink it but here come the offering plates. I need to get to my wallet which is in my hip pocket. I can either put my donuts down on the floor or hand them to my neighbor as I get my wallet (or maybe I can skip the offering this Sunday.)

    Anyway offering is taken care of and it's time for the sermon. Finally, I can finish my lukewarm coffee with the last of my two donuts. Oh no, the pastor wants us to open our Bibles and stand for the reading of the Word. I really ought to. After all, I just stood for "Days of Elijah" during all 30 repeats of "There's no God like Jehovah" surely I can stand for a few verses of Scripture. I chugalug the last of my my coffee, and the cup will fit in my shirt pocket now (looks kind of funny though). I hang on the my half a donut and stand.

    Ah, finally the sermon. I sit down and finish my donut during the opening sermon video. I can now enjoy the sermon.

    Man, I wish I had some more coffee to wash down that last half donut.

  40. #40
    Senior Member Mike Fraley's Avatar

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    Re: Food or drink in the sanctuary

    Quote Originally Posted by G R 'Scott' Cundiff View Post
    Finally, worship is over and I retrieve my coffee and donuts. The coffee isn't as hot now and I'm ready to drink it but here come the offering plates. I need to get to my wallet which is in my hip pocket. I can either put my donuts down on the floor or hand them to my neighbor as I get my wallet (or maybe I can skip the offering this Sunday.)
    If you have donuts left by offering time, at least one should go in the plate.

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