I’m usually very aware of time. The allotment of time tends to fascinate me. In some situations I question whether my perception of time is accurate, or whether it is influenced by other factors. Several months ago I began to suspect that the amount of time we spent singing as a congregation at State College Evangelical Free Church (SCEFC) fluctuated frequently. So for a few months I collected starting and ending times for the music sets. I confirmed the fluctuation. This led to some interesting conversations.
Someone asked me if the time alloted to singing impacted the time alloted to the sermon. Of course this made me curious. Not only did I begin to wonder about this, but also the role communion and special announcements played.
In March I began collecting data during the services at SCEFC. I synchronize my watch to the Official U.S. Time provided by the government. I round each data point to the nearest 15 seconds (0:00, 0:15, 0:30, 0:45). Here is a chart illustrating time allotment in March and a brief discussion about it.
The first time I collect is the beginning of the prelude, which marks the beginning of the singing time. The official start time of the service is 10:30am; in the past year we have started many services late, but recently we have been better about starting the prelude prior to the official start time. You’ll notice in March we did not have any late starts. Following the singing there is usually a time devoted to greeting people. On March 14 there was a baby dedication, indicated as Misc1, before the greeting time. The sermon is followed by Misc2, which happened to occur in some form all four weeks in March. Misc2 includes special announcements, prayer for particular individuals, communion, testimonies, or other such things. The closing time includes the regular bulletin announcements, the offering, the closing song, and the closing prayer or benediction.
I’m curious to see what trends I will be able to see over time.