WHAT TO EXPECT

We get it. Visiting a new church can be awkward…

You don’t know when to sit and when to stand, and what to wear, and why they do what they do.

 

Here are some of the questions that first time visitors have. It’ll help you be prepared. And hopefully minimize the awkwardness.

Wear whatever you want!

Overall, we are a casual bunch. Some people come in jeans, some in a nice shirt and khakis. Not many people wear suits and ties, so don’t worry about dressing fancy.

We want you to be comfortable while you’re here, so feel free to have your clothing reflect that.

Childcare availability varies depending on how many children are in church. If there are several children, then we do sometimes provide a Sunday School class during the service. Most of the time, even if there is only one child, we have our volunteers ready to help out.

All the time, however, we have “busy bags” with projects and things to do during the service.

We love children, including all of their noises! If your child does make a bit of noise during the service, that’s just fine.

If they are getting too rambunctious and you’re starting to feel uncomfortable, we also have a cry room in the back of the sanctuary. There are glass windows, a sound system, and hymnals—everything you need to participate while also caring for your fussy little one!

Our Sunday School teachers all have done background checks and follow our Safe Church Policy to ensure the safety of the children under their care.

All of the above! We come from a variety of backgrounds and hold a variety of opinions—politically, socially, and theologically.

As a church, we are very concerned about social justice and inclusion. We explicitly include all in our worship, including LGBTQ+ folks. Our sermons often include reflections on issues that are ancient, modern, or both—such as poverty, ethnicity, gender, imperialism.

We take the Bible seriously, but many of us do not take it as “literally” as some other churches. It is a deeply important book that shapes our life and we fully embrace the way that it uses story, metaphor, history, and myth to communicate truth about God.

Our church does not hold a particular political position. We do not endorse political candidates or parties. That does not mean, however, that we shy away from meaningful social (and, yes, political) issues. Christianity has a lot to say about how we live life together (that is, politics) and we try to tackle these dilemmas head-on. However, our church services are not focused on politics—they’re focused on processing how our Christian tradition informs every part of our lives.

Our worship is eclectic. We try to include a mix of many things because everyone has different things that are meaningful to them.

The music is lively and energetic. Along with our Steinway grand piano, we often have either guitar or djembe (an African hand drum). Our music comes from our hymnals, and is a mix of traditional hymns and contemporary hymns. We do not normally sing “praise music.”

We sometimes decide to change up our services a bit, because we don’t like to get bored. However, many times the services look something like this:

 

Worship starts with announcements for the congregation. These help people to stay connected to everything that is happening within the church.

 

Next, the pastor and the congregation read back-and-forth a short piece called a call to worship that helps us to center ourselves and collectively reflect on why we’re here.

 

We usually sing four songs throughout the service.We are a church who loves to sing, so we do a lot of it. As a congregation, we like singing with gusto, so we usually stand up. (You are always welcome to stay seated if that is more comfortable.) You, of course, are welcome to not sing anything that you are not comfortable with.

If you can’t read music or don’t know how to sing, that’s just fine. We all sing together, so nobody’s looking at you. You can join in without fear of standing out, regardless of how good or bad you are.  Because we sing out, everyone can fit in, regardless of whether or not you can carry a tune—nobody hears you individually.

We try to include a mix of songs in our worship, including both traditional hymns and contemporary hymns. Along with our piano, we often have either guitar or djembe (a hand drum).

 

After some of the singing, we share our joys and concerns—the things that are on our minds, either good or bad. As a community who supports each other, we help others to lift up these things in prayer. After each congregant says a short prayer request, the pastor says, “Lord in your mercy:”, and together we all finish, “Hear our prayer.”

 

After this, we have prayer. This usually starts with an extended time of silent prayer for a minute or so. Then we read together a prayer that is printed in our bulletin so that we can join each other in praying collectively for each other and for the world.

 

Then, either a member of the congregation or the pastor reads the day’s Scripture aloud. Sometimes they end with, “The word of God for the people of God,” to which we all respond together, “Thanks be to God.”

 

Right afterward, we hear the sermon. This is ranges from 12-20 minutes, most often around 15 minutes. These often start from a Biblical passage, a current event or topic, or a religious idea. The preacher then explores this to try to figure out what we, as Christians living in the 21st century, can learn from it. Sermons use accessible language rather than jargon, so most adults have no problem understanding the content. Sometimes, we welcome other preachers or guests from the community, so that we can learn from a variety of people.

Sometimes, however, we do something different during the sermon time. Sometimes it is singing, sometimes it’s meditation, sometimes it’s discussion. The pastor will explain the details of how to participate if you are doing one of these things.

 

Each week, we take a monetary offering. Through these donations, we are both able to be a presence working in the community and continue offering our worship and programs. To take the offering, the ushers pass offering plates around. Individuals can put their donation in and then pass it along. The offering plate is also the place to place any Friendship Notes to help us connect to you.

As a visitor, please do not feel obliged to add money to the offering plate. This is something that we do as committed regular attendees. Please enjoy our worship service without feeling pressured to give.

 

We participate in the ancient practice of communion on the first Sunday of each month. During this time, we allow this ancient ritual to bring us together as a community, sharing all together in a meal. Congregants come in turn to the front of the sanctuary. There, each individual take the bread, dip it into the grape juice, and eat. You are welcome to join, even if you don’t know what’s going on. However, you are always welcome to not participate. (Nobody will look at you weird!)

In the Methodist Church, we allow everybody to participate in communion, regardless of their denomination or background.

 

We finish with a benediction and a closing song. For the benediction, the pastor wishes a blessing for the congregation. Then we join together in “Let There Be Peace on Earth” to remind ourselves of what we are doing when we leave the sanctuary.

Worship services commonly last an hour or less. Most often, they last around 50 minutes.

After the service, you are welcome to join us in the Fellowship Hall for a snack, coffee or tea, and some conversation. We would love to meet you!

You are also welcome to leave right after the service.

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