What to Expect When You Visit the Church of Christ
-By Allen Webster
Most people are a little apprehensive about visiting a new church. We hope a few words will help set your mind at ease about visiting our congregation.
The church of Christ is a growing, friendly church. We are a diverse congregation that reflects the fact that God's church is for all people. The crowd often ranges in age from newborn babies (a nursery is usually available) to those who have seen most of a century pass. Professionally, there are those from all walks of life-from blue collar to white collar to students to retirees. We have business owners, plant managers, educators, office workers, plumbers, retail employees, welders, and everything in between. Educationally, we have those with Ph.Ds, as well as those who have not spent much time in school. Most fall into the category of high school graduates to college bachelor's degrees. Churches of Christ are diversified-people of all races and nationalities worship and work together as God's children (Acts 10:34-35).
Every effort is made to allow visitors to feel comfortable. You will not be singled out during the service in any way. You will not be asked to make a 'love offering'; in fact, no collections will be taken at all, except during the Sunday morning service when our members make their weekly contribution as an act of worship. Visitors are not expected to participate.
Our services generally open with a brief welcome from one of the members. The song leader then leads the congregation in two or three songs. An opening prayer is offered, followed by another song, and then the preacher delivers a sermon from the Bible. All are encouraged to bring their Bibles and follow along as he leads the study (2 Timothy 2:15).
At the sermon's end, the Lord's invitation is offered (Matthew 11:28-30) for any who want to become Christians or rededicate their lives to God. There is no coercion. During the Sunday morning service, the communion is observed by partaking of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine (1 Corinthians 11:23-29). Members make a financial offering for the poor and the spread of the gospel (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Guests are not expected to give. The service lasts about an hour and concludes with a song and prayer. Guests may sit silently in the service, or they may participate.
Friendly The church of Christ strives to be a 'visitor friendly' church. Since many of our members were at one time visitors themselves, we know how it feels on a first visit. We make it our goal to be the friendliest church you have ever visited. We aim to treat others the way we want to be treated, like Jesus said (Matthew 7:12). You'll receive a warm greeting and find assistance to locate your class (or your children's) and/or a comfortable seat in the worship service. You will not be singled out, made to stand, encouraged to give any 'testimony,' or in any other way made to feel embarrassed. The services are simple, reverent, practical, and meaningful.
Bible-based, Christ-centered, Heaven-bound When you visit, you will meet people who, just like you, sincerely want to follow the teachings of the Bible and please God with their lives. You'll find that every sermon and class is based on the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17). In fact, members and visitors are urged to bring their own Bibles and follow along. We still strive to do Bible things in Bible ways, and to call Bible things by Bible names-nothing more or nothing less. We seek to exalt Christ in our songs, prayers, sermons, and lives (Colossians 1:18). An air of hope fills the church as we think of the beautiful promise of heaven for God's faithful children (Revelation 21:1).
Lord's Supper observed each Sunday The church of Christ has communion every week, just as they did in New Testament times (cf. Acts 20:7). It is a highlight of the week to commemorate Christ's death and celebrate His promised return.
Beautiful singing The whole congregation sings a capella (without mechanical instruments), just as they did in New Testament times (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Visitors may sing along or simply listen. Many first-time visitors comment on how beautiful the singing is. Some say they find it easier to focus on the song's meaning since the words are more easily understood than with musical accompaniment.
Free materials You will find free booklets, pamphlets, tracts, and back issues of publications displayed in the entrance areas. These are free to any member or guest. Often there will be study materials distributed during Bible classes and worship services. A personal home Bible study (open Bible or video) is available for those who want to know more.
A place for everyone Christ's church is made up of all kinds of people (1 Corinthians 12:1; Galatians 3:27-28). You will find members of all races, educational backgrounds, and economic levels feel comfortable in our services. We mean it when we say, 'Everybody is welcome.'
Emphasis on family and Bible school The church of Christ places a great emphasis on Bible school. We feel that children are important, and that our God-given responsibility is to assist parents in teaching them about their origin, purpose, and destiny. They should come to know their Creator, Redeemer, Lord, and Savior early in life (Ecclesiastes 12:1; Matthew 19:14). They have been born into a mixed-up world, so we try to ground them in the simple truth so they will know right from wrong.
So bring your Bible and come for that visit you've been thinking about. We'll save you a seat.