What to Expect
We welcome you to visit us at the Northwest church of Christ. We want you to feel comfortable, but we know an unfamiliar place can be a little uneasy. So, let us tell you what you can expect when you honor us with a visit.
Bible classes are offered for all ages. This gives each of us an opportunity to study the Bible with others of our age group. Only the Bible and Bible subjects will be taught in these classes.
Our worship services are held in what we refer to as the “auditorium” or “sanctuary.” There will be There are no reserved seats, so feel free to sit anywhere you choose. Many of our members will come and introduce themselves to you and welcome you here at our services.
What do we expect from you? Nothing at all! You are welcome to participate, but don’t feel obligated to. Just observe if that is your choice. You may be asked to fill out a Visitor’s Card. This simply provides information so the church can write or call to thank you for your visit with us. Supply the information if you are comfortable doing so. Feel free to decline this request if that is your preference.
One of the first things you may notice about our worship services is that only men lead it. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:12 that “…I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” In this verse, Paul was writing to Timothy about the worship services and that women are not to lead the worship services.
There will be prayers during the service. And, there may be prayers for specific needs and requests.
In a bookrack on the back of the pew in front of you, there will be a hymnbook for your use. When the song leader announces a number, you can turn to that page number in the hymnbook to find the words and music. One of the unique things about the churches of Christ – and something you may find strange – is that the music is “a cappella.” That is, we sing without the accompaniment of musical instruments. This is a conviction with us, not just a preference. We are seeking to worship according to the New Testament pattern. Since the New Testament leaves instrumental music out, we simply believe it’s best to exclude it as well. We think you’ll find the singing meaningful, with everyone being invited to participate.
If you visit on a Sunday, the Lord’s Supper will be included in the worship service – because the churches of Christ observe this memorial every Sunday. Again, the reason for this is our desire to follow the New Testament teachings. The first century church celebrated this observance on the first day of the week, as Acts 20:7 says, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.”
During this memorial, plates containing pieces of unleavened bread will be passed throughout the congregation. Since 1 Corinthians 11:23-24 tells us, ” For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”” Therefore the bread represents the body of Jesus. Each participating person will take a piece of the bread and eat it. Next, trays filled with small cups will contain “fruit of the vine,” usually grape juice, symbolizing the blood of Jesus because 1 Corinthians 11:25 says, “In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”” Each participant will drink the contents of one of the cups. If you choose not to participate, don’t be embarrassed. Feel free to just pass the plate or tray to the person next to you.
Also, if you visit on a Sunday, containers will be passed around to collect the weekly financial offering. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, Paul writes, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches in Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of the week each of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.” As our guest, you are not expected to make a donation or offering. Feel perfectly comfortable in just passing the collection plate or container on down the row.
You will notice that the preacher doesn’t have a title. He won’t be referred to as Pastor or Reverend. He may be addressed as Dr., but only if he has earned that academic credential, but most likely you will probably find him referred to as brother, or just by his name. He won’t be wearing any ecclesiastical clothing, which set him apart. Because 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light,” we believe in the priesthood of all believers. All of us are equal as Galatians 3:26-28 tells us, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Plain Bible teaching is the purpose of each sermon. You will be able to sit quietly and follow in your own Bible as the lesson is presented. We believe the scriptures are sufficient for all teaching and we do not appeal to human creeds because 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for corrections, for training in righteousness.” The sermon will likely be from 30 to 40 minutes. We think you will find it refreshingly Bible-centered.
At the close of the sermon, the preacher will “extend an invitation.” This is simply an expedient time to invite those who are moved to do so to make a commitment or 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 in any way. There may be several who respond, or none at all. Some may respond for baptism, or some to confess sins, or some to ask for prayers for a specific need, or some to “identify” or “place membership” with this church. If anyone responds for baptism, you may witness the baptism during the service. The baptism will be by immersion, and it will be for the remission of sins as Acts 2:38 teaches us, “Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
What kind of people can you expect to find? Pretty much the entire spectrum, as in any group. You will find people with various personalities, and from different backgrounds. There will be people of different races. Friendly people – and unfriendly people. Loving people – and cantankerous people. People who are babes in Christ – and those that have been Christians for a long time. You get the picture. We’re a diverse group, at different stages of knowledge and spiritual growth. We don’t know everything. We don’t do everything right. We don’t always treat each other as we should. We haven’t arrived – we’re just on the journey.
But, you see, we were not brought together by an 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, as Jesus said in Mark 2:17, “And hearing this, Jesus said to them, ” It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”” That’s the reason we can worship together, stick together, and, with God’s help, accomplish some things that make a difference. You won’t have to look very far to find our failures. But, bottom line, you will find people who love Jesus and love the Bible.