Going to church for the first time can be a very daunting experience. You have no idea what will go on there, if people will accept you, if you will do something wrong. Even moving from one church to another can fill many with fear. Sadly, this is not what Jesus intended, indeed, it is something that he fought against during his time on earth. Like a lighthouse bringing her boats into safety, so the church should be a beaming light in the darkness, where anyone can seek refuge.
Let us have a look at what the Bible tells us about church. Firstly, who does the Bible say is welcome? The answer is Everyone!
1 Corinthians 12:13 “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free ….”
Jesus tells his disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations …..”, Matthew 28:19 and this sentiment is reiterated in John 10:16 when he says “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” Up until this point, God’s sheep were the nation of Israel, here Jesus speaks of the gentiles coming to join Israel as people of God.
These passages make it clear that all are welcome within the church, whatever one’s ethnicity, financial situation, race, sexuality, gender, etc. No one should be excluded from the house of God. There are certain exceptions if a person continues in sin and is causing disruption etc. but this would be a blog unto itself! It is important to understand that every single person in that church building is a sinner, including the preacher, minister or elder.
When you walk into a church building you should be made to feel welcome. You should feel comfortable enough to approach anyone and ask any questions you have about the service or the Scriptures. If you are not received warmly please do not think negatively at all about yourself, I assure you this is a problem with the particular church and not you. It is quite normal to try out a few churches sometimes even more before you find the one that fits you best so do not be at all discouraged. Instead just check out some other ones online and try a new one the next week!!
What should happen at a church service?
1 Corinthians 14:26 is a great description of a church service “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.
James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.”
The above passages show us that a service should include musical praise which need not necessarily be old fashioned songs. God wishes his children to worship him and he would be just as happy with praise in any form however modern or noisy! If one looks at the Old Testament you will find the worship of God was often a noisy affair! The service should also include teaching and instruction in the Lord and the person undertaking such work must be qualified not necessarily by degree etc. but he must be intimately familiar with the Scriptures.
However, the service is undertaken whether the praise is led by organ or drums, the instruction given by minister, pastor or elder, prayers spoken on bended knee, sitting, or standing, all must be done for the glory of God. A teacher of the law asked Jesus what the most important commandment was, and Jesus answered “‘…. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31.
This blog may have confused many of you rather than made things clearer! You may be wondering why, when the Bible so clearly details what a church service should look like why there are so many differences? It confuses me too! My next blog will continue this theme and try to help you find a church that is a good fit for you, however, in the meantime, just focus on the important factors above and remember you always have the truth in the palm of your hand when you hold your Bible!!
Love and Blessings