What you can expect when you visit the Church of Christ.
We invite you to our Church Family here at Northside, and would like you to feel comfortable. We know that an unfimiliar place can be intimidating, so let us tell you what you can expect when you honor us with a visit. Maybe it will help you to understand us.
A description of our background may help. We are a part of the Restoration Movement. Please come and see for yourself what we practice.
Our goal is to "Restore" the New Testament Church in our time; to determine from the Bible, what the Church was like in the beginning, and to be like that. We believe this to be a worthy and reverent goal.
We strive to be a Bible centered Church yet we know that our conclusions aren't flawless, and that our practices are sometimes colored by habit, preference, tradition, or convenience.
Now let us walk you through a worship service. Every Church of Christ is autonomous, self-ruled and independent. Therefore, there may be some variations from these descriptions.
Some Churches of Christ meet in homes or rented facilities. We have, for the sake of convenience, erected a church building. You will enter what we refer to as the "auditorium", where there are rows of pews for the worshipers. There are no reserved seats, so feel free to sit anywhere you choose.
In a book rack near you, there will be a hymn book for your use. When the song leader announces the page number for the hymn, you may turn to that page to find the words and music.
One of the unique things about Churches of Christ, and something you may find strange, is that we sing "Acappella". Acapella means singing without the accompaniment of musical instruments.
For us, "Acappella" singing is not a preference, it is a conviction. It has its roots in our restoration heritage. We are seeking to worship according to the New Testament pattern, and since the New Testament leaves instrumental music out, we believe it's best to exclude it.
Acapella singing can be very beautiful. Without the use of musical instrument, we think you will find the singing meaningful, and we invite everyone to participate.
One of our greatest blessing, is our belief in prayer. During our service, there will be serveral prayers which may include prayers for specific needs and requests.
You will notice that the preacher does not have a title, and will not be referred to as a Pastor or Reverend. However, if he has earned the academic credential of Dr., he maybe referred to as Brother, Minister, or just called by his first name.
The preacher will not be wearing any acclesiastical vestments which set him apart. The reason for this is our belief in the priesthood of believers, and that all are equal. (Matthew 23:8-12; Galatians 3:26-28; 1 Peter 2:9-10)
Most sermons are from 20 to 30 minutes. We think you will find it refreshingly Bible-centered (Romans 10:14; Acts 18:5)
At the close of the sermon, The preacher will "extend an invitation". This is a convenient time to invite those who are moved to do so, to make a commitment or to request prayer support. He will encourage those who wish to "respond", to come to the front of the auditorium while the congregation sings a hymn.
Don't feel ill-at-ease during this invitation: You will not be singled out. There may be several that respond, or none at all. Responses may be for baptism, confession for sins, or to ask for a specific need. Some may respond to place membership with this Church.
If anyone responds for baptism, you will witness the baptism during the service. The baptism will be by immersion (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:1-5; John 3:5). This baptism is for the remission of sins. (Acts 2:37-39)
The Lord's Supper
On Sunday mornings, the Lord's Supper will be included in the worship services. Churches of Christ observe this memorial every Sunday.
Again, the reason for this is our desire to follow New Testament teaching. The first century church celebrated this observance on the first day of the week. (Matthew 26:26-28; Acts 20:7; 1 Corithians 11:23-29).
We assume from this, that they did it on the first day of the week. We know from early historians (Neander, Eusebius), that in early centuries, the Lord's Supper was an every Sunday commemoration.
During this memorial, plates containing pieces of unleavened bread will be passed throughout the congregation. The bread symbolizes the body of Jesus. (Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corithians 11:23-26; Acts 20:7). Each participating person will break off a piece of the bread and eat it.
Next, trays filled with small cups will be distributed. The cups will contain "fruit of the vine," usually grape juice, symbolizing the blood of Jesus. (Matthew 26: 26-28; 1 Corithians 11:23-26). Participants drink the contents of one of the cups.
If you visit on a Sunday morning, containers will also be passed to collect the weekly offering. (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). As our guest, you are not expected to make a donation. Please feel perfectly comfortable in passing the collection plate on down the row.
What Will Be Expected of You
Nothing at all! You are welcome to participate, but don't feel obligated. Just observe, if that is your choice.
You may be asked to fill out a visitor's card. This simply provides information if you are comfortable doing so, but feel free to decline this request if you prefer.
What kind of people can you expect to find? Pretty much the entire spectrum, as in any group.
You will find traditionalists, and people who prefer anything new, over everything old. You will find people that enjoy some of our traditions, and try not to get too upset when they are tampered with.
You'll find those of us who are a bit smug at having been liberated from tradition.
You will find legalist, liberals, and a lot of people between. You will find happy, loving, friendly people, and also imperfect people. We are a people that truly love the Lord. You'll find us to be like a little community, with all different kinds of looks and likes.
We are a diverse group, coming from varied backgrounds at different stages of knowledge and spiritual growth. We don't know everything, and we don't always do everything right. We don't always treat each other as we should. We're simply on a spiritual journey just like you might be.
We are not brought together by any illusion of our perfection or righteousness. We were brought together by our recognition that we are sinners, in need of the cleansing blood of Jesus (Mark 2:17, Romans 6:9)