Before the service people find a seat, greet one another and sometimes pray in silence. The service starts with a greeting and an opening song. Christians have always been a singing people – because we have lots to sing about! Some songs will be older, some modern. Sometimes we have an organ playing, other times a music band. We aim to have a wide range of music and song that directs our focus to God.
The service follows the structure set out in the Service sheet that you will have been given. Some of the words (such as prayers or statements of faith) are said altogether by the congregation. If it is a Communion Service, there may be a separate book with other sections of the service in – don’t worry, the preacher will guide you through it.
One value of set words is that they direct our thoughts and hearts, regardless of how we are feeling or our levels of understanding. The service will normally have a time of confession (acknowledging our wrongdoing and saying sorry to God) which is followed by a declaration of God’s forgiveness. Later there is a time of prayer, during which someone prays to God for various matters.
At the heart of the service is the reading of God’s Word – the Bible – and the sermon which helps us to understand, enjoy and apply what God is saying to us. We believe that God speaks through the Bible so that we might discover Jesus Christ and follow Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. You can read the Bible online at The Bible Gateway. Sermons are based on the Bible (because church leaders have no authority to say anything else) and aim to:
- Engage the head – by teaching us what to think.
- Renew the heart – by inspiring us with fresh visions of Jesus
- Direct our actions – by challenging us to put Jesus’ teaching into practice.
On the first and third Sundays of each month the service includes The Lord’s Supper, also called Holy Communion or the Eucharist (which simply means ‘thanksgiving’). The words said by the minister, or together as a congregation, help us to understanding what is going on: in receiving the bread and the wine we acknowledge that Jesus’ death is only way by which we can enjoy communion (or ‘fellowship’ or ‘friendship’) with God. In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus himself eats and drinks with us. We also express to one another that we belong to each other because we belong to Jesus. The formal part of the service will end with a final song and a blessing. But this is not a cue to leave! Many people stay to talk with each other, pray for one another’s needs, and enjoy time together over a cup of tea or coffee (served in the Church Centre).
We hope this helps you know what to expect on a Sunday service. If there are things you don’t understand please feel free to ask. We don’t expect you to be familiar with everything straight away but hope your time with us – whether one off or one of many – will be a time of encouragement to you. Your presence will certainly be an encouragement to us.