Puritans on the Potomac: Capitol Hill Baptist Church

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Larry Nelson's picture

 

From the "What to Expect" tab of their website:

Profile Age-wise, we are young. Sunday morning attendance is between 900 and 1,000 people. Dress trends toward business-casual, though you can find anything from jeans to suits. People are friendly, though with 200+ visitors each week, you’ll need to be bold and introduce yourself.

Beginning On Sunday morning at 9:30am we come together for an hour for our Core Seminar programs, in which we learn about God’s Word and its application to all areas of life. Following that, we begin our Sunday morning service at 10:30am. As we find our seats in the Main and West Halls, we sing songs to prepare our hearts for the service.

Music The music we sing at CHBC is a blend of old and new. We love the doctrinally rich hymns of the sixteenth century and we find blessing in the choruses of the twenty-first. Most of us who are comfortable with music from one particular era have discovered, while at CHBC, that we have come to enjoy other songs we had not previously encountered. We strongly prefer congregational singing, which emphasizes the gathered body singing praise to God with one voice, over performed music, which tends to spotlight the abilities of some while encouraging passivity in the rest.

Body of Service Our service formally begins at 10:30am, led most often by an elder or pastoral staff member. During this time, we sing several songs, offer prayers of praise and confession to God, hear Scripture read, and give our offerings and tithes.

Sermons Preaching at CHBC is generally expositional, meaning that it seeks to declare the point of a particular Biblical passage. Sermons usually last around an hour and are packed with material for reflection. On a regular basis, our sermon series alternate between the Old and New Testaments. All preaching is driven by the Gospel, the Bible’s main message of God saving sinners through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Post Sermon We sing a hymn encapsulating the theme of the sermon and then take our seats once more for a brief moment of silent reflection. A typical service is finished by 12:45 pm. We provide light refreshments in the West Hall immediately after the service to encourage fellowship. An hour later, you might still find folks talking over the sermon and events of the past week.

http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/visit-us/what-to-expect/sunday-morning-service/

JohnBrian's picture

I was reading and thought I would love to visit the church when next I have opportunity. Then I read that service ends at 12:45pm and realized I'm way too Baptist to want to stay 45 minutes past noon.

With a single exception:

When I have preached in Jamaica, I usually didn't enter the pulpit until noon, and preached all of my sermon, not the abbreviated version I use in the US.

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Ron Bean's picture

Five years ago, at the suggestion of a fundamentalist friend who knew us well, my wife and I visited Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.

Up to that point, we had been "in the ministry" for nearly 30 years, the last of which had been discouraging. We had been in churches that were stagnant or declining in attendance, suffered from either no leadership or dictatorial leadership, and were marked by internal turmoil. 

It was implied that these were "the last days" and that we were the "remnant" and that a church that was growing could only do so by compromising the truth and that the millennials and generation X'ers had either quit church or were attending churches that were using entertainment to build a crowd.

The first Sunday we visited CHBC, I was stunned. I was in a church auditorium filled with that missing younger generation (and older folks as well) who were joyfully singing traditional hymnody and listening to hour-long expositional sermons. I was encouraged to see people coming to Christ, being baptized and joining the church, interns being trained and sent out to plant and revitalize churches, and a church body that actively cared for its members.

After attending for a time, we asked if we could join and were told "No". (Imagine that from a Baptist church!) Our work schedules and geographic location would not have allowed us to be fully integrated in to the life of CHBC. We were, instead, encouraged to join another church which they recommended where we could be fully involved in church life and where we've been for the last 5 years.

As to "bursting at the seams"; that would be an accurate description of a Sunday morning service. This is an old church building that is in the city and 1000 people in attendance means standing room only. Add to that the challenge of finding parking in Washington D.C. After finding a parking spot, a walk of two or three blocks is typical.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

AndyE's picture

We visited one Sunday morning back in 2012 when we were in Georgetown for my brother-in-law's MBA graduation.  The first song they sang was the "rousing" old hymn, O Come and Mourn with Me Awhile.  The congregational songs and singing were outstanding. One of the things they did that morning, and not sure if they do it all the time, was to sing all the verses of each hymn and each time have the instruments drop out for the last verse.  I really appreciated how that worked out in practice. It tended to slow down the song a bit at the end and motivated me to concentrate more on the words. It was a neat touch.  I'm not a Dever (or T4G) fanboy by any means but I did appreciate the style and emphasis of their worship service.

Ron Bean's picture

When we attended CHBC we would arrive early to enjoy the 15-20 minutes of congregational singing before the official service started. It was some of the best I've ever participated in. If you'd like to hear a sample, try this:

http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/resources/music/

I did have my cultural comfort zone stretched when we were singing "O For A Thousand Tongues" (Lyngham) which is one of my favorites and the guy standing next to me in jeans and dreadlocks is smiling and singing the bass line well and with joyful enthusiasm. That was my introduction to Shai Linne who was a member and intern there at the time.

 

 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Jonathan Charles's picture

This is not a criticism, just an observation that while Dever preaches an hour on Sun. A.M., Sunday evening, acc. to the website, is a devotional related to the sermon delivered by a member of the pastoral staff, and Wed. is a Bible study of about 100 people delivered by a member of the pastoral staff.  Not every pastor can or should preach an hour, and most churches that still have a traditional Sunday evening service have the same pastor who probably preached 35-40 min. in the A.M. preaching the same amount of time in the P.M.    

Larry Nelson's picture

 

Jonathan Charles wrote:

This is not a criticism, just an observation that while Dever preaches an hour on Sun. A.M., Sunday evening, acc. to the website, is a devotional related to the sermon delivered by a member of the pastoral staff, and Wed. is a Bible study of about 100 people delivered by a member of the pastoral staff.  Not every pastor can or should preach an hour, and most churches that still have a traditional Sunday evening service have the same pastor who probably preached 35-40 min. in the A.M. preaching the same amount of time in the P.M.    

 

We have 4 weekend service times (1 on Saturday night & 3 on Sunday mornings).  At each service, our pastor preaches for typically 45-48 minutes.  (So that's generally at least 3 hours of preaching in about a 19 hour time-span.)   On Easter, make that 5 services, so add another 45-48 minutes.  Plus he normally speaks at a variety of other venues & functions (Bible studies, schools, etc.) throughout the week.

I asked him once if his voice ever becomes strained  Not surprisingly, he said occasionally it does.  (Fortunately he loves to preach!)    

dgszweda's picture

Our church style reflects much the model that Dever has laid out in his church.  Not because we copied Dever, but because we felt there was value.  Our preaching goes for 60-90 minutes in the morning.  While in the beginning I was taken back by that a bit, I have now embraced it.  When I go to a church that has a 30 minute sermon, I feel like it just ended right after it started.  I don't feel I can get as engrossed into the gospel and the message.  Much like Dever's church, our church has attracted a very vibrant group of people from young to old, despite the fact that we have absolutely no gimmicks to attract people.  It really shows that strong preaching, strong singing and strong prayer time really engages and grows a church.