By Rev. Donn Brammer
OK, so you’ve looked at our website or been invited by a friend and you are thinking about coming to our worship service and you might be wondering what to expect.
First thing you should probably know is that we welcome everyone and by everyone we really mean everyone! We celebrate the diversity of God’s creation and affirm that all people are created by God and understand the word ‘ALL’ to mean all: rich, poor, conservative, progressive, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, married, single, divorced, widowed, gay, straight etc.
Well, if you have a church background then you probably have an idea. There will be some singing, some praying, a sermon, an offering, and communion. Worship begins at 10:15 and ends around 11:30.
If you don’t have a church background the same things will happen, i.e. singing, praying, etc. but let me try to prepare you for what will happen before any of that.
You will be welcomed by one of our friendly greeters and given the Church bulletin which is basically a handout that tells you the order of events in our service and the names of people doing various things and announcements that talk about various activities the Church is involved with.
Some people have “regular spots” where they like to sit but we are always happy to give up our seats for a new visitor so take a seat wherever you like and relax!
We try to start our worship service at 10:15 and end by 11:30, we begin by inviting everyone to get up and greet each other, at least those close by. Some of our people are very enthusiastic about it, others are shy, but all of them are friendly.
We will then ask if anyone is visiting with us for the first time to please raise their hand. If you raise your hand you get a gift, and if you came with a friend, they get a gift, and if you came because a friend invited you, that friend gets a gift. What can I say, we are a giving church, but don’t get too excited, we are not giving out cars or anything really cool, we give out pens/stylus combos.
The congregation will then sing our “Welcome Song.” We sing it every Sunday even if we don’t have any visitors. The words will be projected on the screen up front and it’s easy to sing and chances are pretty good you’re going to be very familiar with the tune.
After the ‘Welcome Song’ we will go through some of the announcements. This will be followed by a quieter song that the choir will sing, which will be followed by a person leading us in a short prayer followed by the Lord’s Prayer. We all pray the Lord’s prayer and again, the words are on the screen. After the prayer, we all stand up and sing a song. You may or may not know it, but the words will be on the screen and you are invited to join in.
Many people feel that their favorite part of the service is when the children are invited to come forward for what is called the Children’s Sermon. This is a time when one of the ministers will share a very short message geared to children. I’m actually pretty partial to this part of our service as I sometimes get to dress up as a superhero with a cape (actually it’s just a towel and a close pin but shhhh) ! After this, the children will be invited to go to their own worship service.
After the children leave we have a time of prayer. This prayer is intended to lift up friends and family members who are sick as well as to pray for our community, our nation, and the world.
We will then listen to a passage of Scripture which is also shown on the screen. This will be the passage that the sermon is based on which will come later in the service.
After the Scripture, the choir will sing. Usually we are asked to sing with them on the first song, and then they sing a second song by themselves. We have a great choir and are blessed with two wonderful musicians, Howard Lemon on keyboard and Rick Rossano on guitar.
After the choir, comes the sermon . Generally, it is about 20 minutes long and we hope that it is inspiring and insightful. You can get a feel for our Sermons before you even visit us by listening to a few of our Podcasts on the Media and Ministries tab.
After the sermon, the congregation will be asked to stand and sing a song, you will see some men and women come forward to the altar and you will see one of the ministers and two people gather behind the table. The lay people behind the table are “Elders,” spiritual leaders in the church and they will offer prayers. The lay people on either side of the table are called “Deacons” and they will be ‘serving’ by bringing offering trays to the congregation and then later communion.
The offering is an opportunity for those who want to give to do so, some people give cash, others write checks. When the tray is passed to you, you are invited to give a gift or to simply pass it to the person sitting next to you, or if there isn’t anyone next to you, pass it back. Not everybody gives every Sunday, so there really is no pressure to give.
After the offering, has been collected, the ‘Deacons’ will come back to the altar with the offering trays, hand it to the Elders who will hand it to the minister. The Elder will then offer a prayer.
After the prayer, everyone will sit down and the minister will offer a short meditation about communion. In our congregation, communion is open to all who believe and have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. The bread represents his body and the cup (we use grape juice) represents his blood. We believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and was resurrected for our salvation.
We take communion in stages. First the bread is passed out to everyone, we wait and partake after everyone has been served. The Deacons will come back forward and the minister will break the bread and everyone partakes at the same time. Then we pass out trays with little cups of juice in them and follow the same procedure. The cup is offered to everyone and those wishing to partake wait until the Deacons have come back to the altar and the minister holds up the cup and we all partake together.
After communion, an invitation will be given for anyone present to receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and to be baptized in his name. The congregation will stand and sing and those wishing either to be baptized or, if already baptized, to join the church, will come forward while the congregation is singing. The minister will ask two questions: Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and have you accepted Him as your personal Lord and Savior? Those who join will then join the ministers by the doors so everyone can welcome them.
After our worship service, we have a time of Fellowship and refreshment and everyone is invited to join us. Even though you might not know anyone yet, please come on into the fellowship hall. So many of our members would love to meet you and we have all kinds…very serious members, not so serious members and very silly members but the one thing we all have in common is we all Love the Lord and would love to welcome you in his name.
That’s pretty much what you can expect on your first visit and I sincerely hope that you will visit with us soon!
Hopefully, you will feel the loving, warmth and welcoming spirit of our congregation and come back to be with us many times. It all really comes down to this… We are all here for the same reason, to Worship our Lord and Savior who loved us so much that he came to our world as one of us, lived a perfect sin free life and then died on a Cross not for his sins but for ours so that we may be forgiven, reborn in his name and receive life eternal.
We are delighted that you are here!
In Jesus’s name