about writing and life and God

10 Top Tips for Going to Church

on September 2, 2012

Some ideas to make it easier to get there if you haven’t been for a while – or not ever!

  1. First (to paraphrase Isabella Beeton) find your church. Most nowadays have websites or are on Facebook so you can check out in advance if you’re on their wavelength. Services will vary from glorious music, incense, drama, through quiet thoughtful liturgy, and on to lively, heart-lifting modern music and songs with bands rather than organ and a much more informal atmosphere. Plenty to choose from!
  2. Dress appropriately – not necessarily Sunday best! Old huge stone churches and some ancient chapels tend to be cold – no central heating You don’t want to freeze so choose what you would wear outdoors. Congregations that meet in halls or modern buildings (or like one I know who tries to live out God’s call to being good stewards of the environment and have put in solar panels to generate their electricity) will be  warmer so you’ll be taking your coat off. Be prepared.
  3. Get there about 12 minutes before the service starts. This gives you a chance to be greeted at the door, find a place to sit, check out the books they give you (if they don’t have Powerpoint). And it gives you time to settle into your seat peacefully and absorb the atmosphere. Observe. Relax. (Unless they’re so friendly they come and talk to you!)
  4. Don’t hide at the back of the church. For some weird reason, those are the most popular seats! Instead choose a seat about one-third from the front. You’ll be able to see what’s going on from there without being too obvious.
  5. Sit behind somebody. That way you can copy what they do – when they stand up and sit down, and you can see what pages of the book they’re on. If need be, you can lean forward and ask quietly for help!
  6. Take part. Sing the hymns. (Yes, you may be a bit wobbly on the first verse but you’ll get several more tries at the same tune before it’s finished. And you won’t be alone… at being wobbly!) Say the responses and prayers out loud. Stand, sit, kneel. Join in with your body, your voice, and your heart.
  7. Listen. Pay attention. Focus. If your mind starts to wander during the sermon (talk/address/homily), count the number of times the preacher mentions God or Jesus.
  8. Say Amen mentally to everything and anything in the prayers that you agree with or care about.
  9. Bring a small amount of money, ready in a pocket so you don’t have to fumble when they come round with the collection bag/plate.
  10. Don’t rush off at the end! If they’re serving coffee, stay and have a cup. If not, take your time gathering your books and let people talk to you. This is the fellowship bit of the service. It’s especially useful if you’ve recently moved to a new area.

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