What to Expect at a Sunday Service?
If you've never been to church, not been in a long time, or never been to a Methodist church, you might wonder, what actually happens at a service?
We've put together a general guide to what you can expect at one of our Sunday Services which will hopefully answer some questions you might have.
Before you read it, remember, no one will be judging you on how you act in a service, you don't need to read any of this to go to a service, it's only for you to feel more comfortable, once you get to a service you'll find that people will be more than happy to help.
Have you been to a few services and noticed someone different preaches each service?
In Methodism, we have Ministers and Local Preachers that all travel around the circuit week by week, this means that you'll see lots of different people and hear many different insights and sermons.
Various people will also come up during the service to introduce the preacher and do readings from the Bible, these people are usually what we call 'Stewards.'
Read more about how our circuit works on the 'Churches' page.
Do you stand up? Where are the words? What if I can't sing!
Well, yes, we stand for hymns but only if you're physically able. The words are either in a hymn book which you'll have nearby, or they'll be projected onto a screen at the front of the church. Don't feel nervous about the singing, everyone gives it a good go, don't worry if it takes a while to get the hang of some of the tunes! If you really don't want to sing, just listen.
The way the music is played varies from church to church, some have piano's, others use CD's and some even have choirs or small bands that help back up the congregation!
The offering is an opportunity to give a small donation to the church. The preacher will announce it during the service and a plate will be brought round, usually during a hymn. Don't feel pressured to give, you can just let the plate pass. We usually then remain standing as the preacher says a prayer over the donations.
What's the money for?
This can vary from church to church, some churches need structural repairs and have other internal costs but the money also goes towards outreach and the work of the churches in the local community, for example keeping our social groups and drop-ins going.
Communion happens once a month at each church and it's a special time in a service where the congregation can come forward and share bread and wine as Jesus did with his disciples.
If you want to partake (anyone can) then join and hold your hands out, you will then receive a small piece of bread and a tiny cup of 'wine' and eat and drink with the congregation.
You don't have to partake in communion, either remain seated or join but keep your hands down, you will receive a blessing from our minister but no bread or wine.
The wine is a non-alcoholic mix, almost like strong fruit cordial and children are welcome to join in.
The preacher or steward will let you know we're about to pray by saying something like 'Let us pray.'
During a service, we have various prayers, sometimes there'll be two, sometimes there might be quite a few. You'll learn more about certain types of prayer as you go on, don't worry if you don't understand one at first and don't be afraid to ask someone!
In some prayers, we might be asked to say a phrase together when prompted or to say 'The Lords Prayer' together, again, don't panic if you don't get the hang of the words straight away.
Many of our churches offer a 'Sunday School' but don't let the word 'School' put them off, it just means learning something new, while having fun! The children tend to join the Sunday Service until about the second hymn when they'll be invited to go out with the Sunday School leader.
There they might learn a story or discuss a theme in the Bible such as 'Love' then they'll do activities around this such as drawing, crafting or even drama or singing. Sometimes a church will also have what's called an 'All Age Worship' in their calendar which is a service that children stay for the whole time but is geared towards being particularly child-friendly. Some churches have more children than others in the congregation, don't be afraid to ask someone how Sunday School works or what facilities they have!
after the service
If you don't need to rush off, why not stay and chat with the congregation over tea and coffee after the service, there's often cake and biscuits too!
*Rakefoot and Irwell Vale don't have tea and coffee after the service but they'd still be so happy to have a chat!
Q: Do I have to believe in God to go to a service?
A: This is a common worry about going to a church and the answer is NO. Church is a place to learn and get to know more about God and the Bible as much as it is a place of worship. We only want to open the door and offer you the opportunity to see what Church is about if you decide it's not for you, that is your choice.
Q: I have someone I'd like the congregation to pray for, how do I ask?
A: Some Churches have a prayer book you can write in but generally it's best to speak to someone on the day and they'll tell a steward who will put them on the prayer list. We are working on ideas to make this easier!