While Visiting the|
Church of Christ:
What can you expect?
Prepared by David Churchill*
You Can Expect ...
Worship That Is Simple And Devout
Expect to find a group of Christians assembled
as a family (Ephesians 3:14-19) to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). This worship consists
of studying the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15, 3:16-17), praying (1 Timothy
2:8), singing from the heart (Ephesians 5:19), serving the Lord's
Supper each Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26), and giving
as prospered (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). It is our
desire to worship God as He instructs in the New Testament... as did the
first Christians. We practice only within the guidelines prescribed
in the Bible.
A Plea For Unity
Expect to hear a gospel preacher pleading
for all who would follow Christ to obey the original pattern of Christianity
as revealed in the Bible. Since the Word of God is the seed of the
Kingdom (Luke 8:11), when it is planted in the hearts of men it will
produce the same fruit today as it did in the first century.
We earnestly plead for the unity of all believers
on the scriptural platform of no creed but the Bible, no name but Christ's,
no organization but the church, and no worship but that authorized by God's
Word. This is the only real answer to Christian unity and fellowship
in Christ (Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Corinthians 1:10).
Respect For The Bible
As God's Word
Expect this church to respect the Bible as
the fully inspired Word of God (2 Peter 1:21; 1 Thessalonians 2:13).
The Bible is the complete and only authority in true religion (2
Timothy 3:16-17; 1 Peter 4:11). Since the Word of God is the all-sufficient
rule of faith and practice, expect this church to reject all human creeds
and man-made bindings (Galatians 1:8-9; Revelation 22:18-19). We
believe that to follow and bind traditions of men is to worship God in vain
Because of our respect and confidence in the
Bible as God's Word, we study the Bible regularly as a congregation and
as individuals. We welcome you to join us for Bible classes¹ on Sunday and Wednesday.
We are also glad to examine the Scriptures with you in your home or
by correspondence, if you desire to do so.
We are ordinary people with an united faith
in God's Word. We have varying backgrounds, experiences, and stages
of knowledge and spiritual growth. We seek to please God and submit
to His will. We are not perfect and do fall short at times. (2
Timothy 1:8-9; Titus 2:11-14)
We come together understanding that as repentant
sinners we need the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:5-10).
What will happen during Sunday
a visitor, you probably have questions about the order of the worship service
and about what is expected of you. The following information should
answer some of those questions and help you to feel more at home during
our worship. We welcome you to participate or just observe,
if you prefer.
Please keep in mind: we believe in a Bible-based,
Christ-centered worship. Where the Bible provides specific guidelines,
we believe there is no room for alterations. Where the Bible provides
more general guidelines, then within those guidelines we have made choices
that reflect our preferences and customs. (Colossians 3:17; Ephesians
At the beginning of the service, the songleader
or another member will announce information items that are of general interest
to the congregation. These items usually concern upcoming events,
prayer requests, ill members, traveling members, public thank-you's, and/or
mention of special visitors. (Eph.4:15-16)
Prayer is very important to our worship as
we speak with God in praise and request for specific needs. These
prayers will be led by the male members of the church. (1 Timothy 2:1-12;
1 Corinthians 14:34-35) Typically there will be at least five
public prayers during the service. An opening prayer will follow the
announcements or the first song(s). Two prayers will be led at the
Lord's Supper and one led at the collection. A closing or dismissal
prayer will conclude the service. Occasionally, the songleader or
the preacher may lead or request other prayers.
Songs are selected by the songleader from
the hymnal provided at each seat. One of the unique things about the
churches of Christ is the a cappella singing (we sing without
the accompaniment of musical instruments). This is a conviction with
us, not just a preference, and reflects our desire to worship according
to the New Testament pattern. (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:17-19; Hebrews
In congregations that have chosen to hire
a preacher, you will notice that the preacher does not have a title; he
will not be referred to as Pastor or Reverend.
You may hear him referred to as brother, minister,
preacher, or simply by his first name. He will
not be wearing any ecclesiastical clothing that set him apart from all other
believers. We believe in the scripturally defined priesthood of all
believers and their equality on this basis. (1 Peter 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6)
The sermon will be a Bible-based lesson lasting
approximately 15 - 35 minutes. For those Sundays when the preacher
is out of town (or in congregations lacking a hired preacher), one
of the leading men of the church will prepare and preach the sermon. (2
Timothy 3:16-17, 4:1-5; Romans 10:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2)
At the close of the sermon an invitation may
be extended to all in attendance. This invitation provides an opportunity
for anyone desiring to request prayer support or to make a public commitment
such as requesting baptism; confession of sin; or identifying as new members.
(Of course, we also welcome people to present these needs to us
less publicly or outside of the assemblies.) The preacher will
encourage those who wish to respond to come to the front of
the auditorium while the congregation sings a hymn. Although the response
may involve several people to none, you will not be singled out in any way.
Please do not feel ill-at-ease during the invitation.
If the response is to request baptism, we
invite you to witness this event and to rejoice with us we practice
a scriptural baptism of full submersion for the remission of sins. (Mark
16:16; Acts 2:38, 22:16; Romans 6:1-8; Galatians 3:27)
(Please note: The personal information
presented in these reponses is intended for the other members of our congregation
family and not neccessarily for our visitors. We expect you as our
guest to politely respect the sometimes private nature of this information
and to practice appropriate confidentiality.)
Churches of Christ observe the Lord's Supper
every Sunday. We believe this is the New Testament teaching practiced
by the first century church. (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-26; Matt. 26:26-29;
During this memorial of Jesus Christ, trays
containing unleavened bread will be passed throughout the congregation.
The bread symbolizes the body of Jesus. Each person participating
will break off a piece of the bread and eat it.
Next, trays filled with small cups will be
distributed. The cups contain fruit of the vine, grape
the blood of Jesus. Each participant will drink one cup.
If you choose not to participate, do not feel
embarrassed; just pass the tray to the person next to you.
During the collection, plates³ are passed to collect offerings for the financial
needs of the church. (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:6-10)
The collection will usually be gathered just before or after the Lord's
Supper -- not because one is part of the other, but simply out of convenience
for those assisting with both tasks.
As our guest, you are not expected to contribute
a donation. Feel perfectly comfortable in passing the collection plate
to the next person.
If you have
any questions about the service or about anything said during the service,
please feel free to ask any of the members before we begin worship or after
we have completed. We'll be happy to answer them as best we can. (1
note: Expecting to need to use a nursery & cry room? Most
congregations have one
just ask any member where to find it. Typically
it will be located near or just outside the main entrance to the auditorium
and will be equipped with a changing table or crib, a rocking chair or recliner,
restroom access or a sink, and a loudspeaker connected to the auditoriums
speaker system so you may still listen to the bible class or worship service.
* This article was prepared by summarizing
a number of vistor's-brochures collected from several churches of Christ
in the United States.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the
HOLY BIBLE, NEW KING JAMES VERSION, Copyright (C) by Thomas Nelson,
Inc. 1982, 1992. (Go back
to place in article.)
¹ Almost all local churches of Christ provide
Bible classes on Sunday mornings for their members and any visitors. Most
congregations customarily provide Bible classes on Wednesday evenings and
on Sunday afternoons/evenings. However, since providing and scheduling
of Bible classes is at the discretion of each individual congregation, some
congregations may choose to provide fewer Bible classes or on a different
day of the week. (Go back to place in article.)
, ² In English, we tend to distinguish grape
juice as unfermented and wine as fermented, but this is
different from the Greek language of the New Testament. The Greek
word translated into English as wine literally means fruit
of the vine, i.e. the juice of the grape, and can refer to either
fermented or unfermented grape juice. When it was important to make a clear
distinction, the speaker would refer to old wine for fermented
and new wine for fresh like Jesus did in a parable in Luke 5:36-39.
When Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper (Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25;
Luke 22:14-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26), He made no such distinction. Therefore,
each local church of Christ may choose either unfermented or fermented grape
juice to satisfy Jesus' instructions for the Lord's supper, but most congregations
find it more expedient to use unfermented. (Go
back to place in article.)
³ While the collection is specifically commanded
in the New Testament, the necessary collection utensils are not so specifically
described. The local church of Christ you visit might use metal or
wooden plates, baskets, or even cloth bags for gathering up the collection.
(Go back to place in article.)