I’ve never been to church before. What do I do?! What if people realize I’ve never been in church before because I don’t know what to do? Stand, sit, kneel? I don’t know how to sing!– Plenty of people thinking about going to church for the first time
Don’t sweat it. Really. It’s like going to the gym for the first time – all the equipment is new and strange and even with directions printed there, it can feel awkward. unlike the gym, you probably aren’t going to sweat. (The priest might, because of all the layers they wear)
Here is an absolute, step-by-step introduction:
- Walk into the church doors.
- At 8 am, the bulletins (the order of service, generally has “The Holy Eucharist” and our church logo printed on it) and the inserts (which have the readings for the day) are on a big table by the center doors. It’s self-serve, because we’re not caffeinated enough yet.
- At 10 am, an usher will greet you and hand you the bulletin and insert. By now we’ve had enough coffee.
- Take a seat! We’re friendly, and we also know that sometimes people want their own space, too.
- At 8 am we don’t sing (again, not enough coffee). At 10 am we do. The hymnal is in the front of your pew. It says “Hymnal 1982” on it. Very creative! Or sometimes we use other hymnals. Those get handed out to you along with the bulletin and insert.
- At 10 am we have the announcements first thing, then some silence before the opening hymn. At 8 am, the announcements are in the middle of the service.
- We generally stand when we sing or pray together, or when the Gospel is read. We sit to hear the other readings and the sermon. We kneel for confession (but if you aren’t able to do that for any reason, don’t sweat it!)
- Follow along in the bulletin. If you get lost, you can sneak over to someone and look over their shoulder. They’ll be glad to help. Or you can let it wash over you. This is deep tradition that we’re soaking in!
- At the peace we share the peace with one another. Wave! This is followed with a time of sharing celebrations. The money collected at this point (which is absolutely voluntary!) we put into our “blessing bowl” which is used to fund scholarships to the diocesan youth camp, Paradise Point.
- Now is the offertory. At 10 am we will sing and pass the plates. If you want to put something in, that’s appreciated! But seriously, don’t feel guilty if you’re not putting something in. (Really, the priest himself is writing this section on the website. He means it. No guilt.)
- Eucharist time! Eucharist = Thanksgiving in Greek. You learned something cool today!
- Again, the bulletin has what you need to help you navigate the ritual. You’re not expected to memorize this. The priest doesn’t memorize it. They read it from a book.
- When it comes time for communion, you can come forward if you like. If there’s a long line, you can have a seat and wait. The usher at 10 am will help you know when to go.
- If you want to partake in communion, hold out your hands for the bread (we do have gluten free, just say it softly). Say “Amen,” and eat the bread.
- Then go over to the chalice (we use the fancy stuff for Jesus). Gently guide the chalice to your lips and take a sip of wine. If you want to skip it, cross your arms over your chest. It’s absolutely ok to not drink the wine. Some don’t drink the wine because of medicine, or because they are in recovery, or simply choose not to. No one is judging.
- If you’d rather have a blessing instead of partaking communion, then cross your arms over your chest when you get to the priest. They will say a blessing over you.
- Go back to your seat for quiet prayer.
- At the end of the service, the priest will offer a blessing, and then the people are dismissed.
- Join us for coffee and snacks! At 8 am we have them in that main hallway you entered through, or at 10 am we meet in the parish hall.