What to Expect when you visit our Congregation
We want you to visit us at the Blue Starr Church of Christ – and we want you to feel comfortable when you’re here. We know that being unfamiliar with a place can be intimidating, so let us tell you a bit about what you can expect when you honor us with a visit.
A brief description of our background may help you understand us. We are part of what has been termed the “Restoration Movement.” That is, our goal is to “restore” New Testament Christianity in our time–to determine from the Bible what the church was like in the beginning and to follow that example in our worship of God. We believe this is a worthy and reverent goal.
We want to be a Christ-centered church with a great respect for His word, the Bible. We try to be. Yet, we know our practices are colored by habit, preference, tradition or convenience. So we continue to study the Bible and make our practices as much like the early church as possible.
Now, let us walk through what you can expect at a typical worship service.
There may be some variations between the Blue Starr congregation and other churches of Christ because every church of Christ is independent and self-governed. We have selected elders, men with a strong scriptural knowledge and good reputation, who oversee the spiritual needs of the church. We believe that these men are answerable to Jesus, the head of the church.
1 Peter 5:1-4, Titus 1:5b-9
As you enter our auditorium (sanctuary) you will see rows of “pews” or chairs for seating. There are no reserved seats, so feel free to sit anywhere you choose.
At some time during the Sunday morning service a collection will usually be taken up but visitors are not expected to donate. Feel perfectly comfortable to just pass the collection plate on down the row. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2
Songs are projected via a projector on screens in the front. An order of worship is provided in the foyer with song numbers listed, in case you’d like to follow along in a song book. Song books can be located in a bookrack under the chairs.
One of the unique things about ourselves and other churches of Christ–something you might find initially strange–is that the music is sung “a cappella.” That is, we sing without the accompaniment of musical instruments.
We want to worship according to the example set by the early churches in the New Testament. Since the early New Testament churches apparently did not use instrumental music, we believe it is best to imitate their example. You may consider us a bit narrow-minded on this point, but we believe you will respect our reason for it and our conviction. We think you will find our singing meaningful, with everyone invited to participate. 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:8,19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:12
Prayers & Preaching
There will be prayers led during the service by our members. There may be prayers for specific needs and requests. We use prayer as a means of talking humbly to our Father in Heaven, who is the one true and living God.
During prayers, most members bow their heads and may close their eyes, concentrating on the words of prayer.
You will notice that the preacher doesn’t have a formal title. He won’t be referred to as “pastor” or “reverend.” He will be referred to as a brother or just by his name.
He won’t be wearing any ecclesiastical vestments that set him apart. The reason for this is our belief in the priesthood of all believers–that all are equal before the Lord. Matthew 23:8-12; Galatians 3:26-28; 1 Peter 2:5-9
His sermon will likely last from 20 to 30 minutes. We think you will find it both interesting and refreshingly Bible centered.
At the end of most sermons, the preacher will offer an invitation. This is simply a time to invite those who are moved to do so to make a commitment, or to request others of the Blue Starr church family to pray in support of them. The preacher will ask those who wish to “respond” to come to the front of the sanctuary while a hymn is sung. Don’t feel uneasy during this invitation. You will not be singled out or made to feel embarrassed in any way.
There may be several who respond or none. Some may respond asking to be baptized. Some may confess sins or weaknesses in their lives. Some may come to ask for prayers for specific needs or problems in their lives. Some may ask to be “identified with” or “place membership with” the Blue Starr church. Some may come forward just to show caring support for fellow members of their church family.
If anyone responds for baptism, you will witness their confession of faith in Jesus Christ followed by their being immersed in water by the preacher or by a friend, and it will be for the forgiveness of their sins. Acts 8:35-39; Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12; Acts 2:38
If you visit on a Sunday morning, the Lord’s Supper will be included in the worship service. The reason for this is our desire to follow the New Testament pattern. The first century church celebrated this observance on the first day of the week. Acts 20:7
We assume from this that they did it on the first day of EVERY week. We know from respected historians that in the early centuries the Lord’s Supper was an every Sunday commemoration. Neander, Eusebius (church historians)
During this memorial service, plates containing pieces of unleavened (no yeast) bread will be passed through the congregation. To us, this symbolizes the body of Jesus offered on our behalf on the cross. Each participating person will break off a piece of the bread and eat it. 1 Corinthians 11:23-25
Next, trays of small cups will be passed. The cups contain “fruit of the vine,” that is, grape juice. It symbolizes to us the blood of Jesus, also as offered on the cross. Each participant will drink the contents of one of the cups and then put the empty cup back in the tray. 1 Corinthians 11:23-25
Don’t be embarrassed if you choose not to participate. Feel free to just pass the plate or tray to the person next to you.
What will be expected of You?
You are welcome to, but don’t feel that you have to participate. Just watch and listen, if that is your choice. As our honored guest, we want you to feel welcome.
We would appreciate it if you would fill out a “visitor’s card” so we can have a record of your visit. But feel free to decline this request if you prefer.
What kind of people can you expect to find here?
Pretty much all kinds of people. Some work in factories. Some are civil servants. Some are nurses. Some are teachers. We have secretaries and housewives and electricians and carpenters. We have college students and business owners, farmers and city folks. We have active and growing groups of youths, young adults, and married couples. There are people of all ages. You will see those a few days old to those whose life experience is grand.
Many of the ladies get together during the week to study the Bible. Many of us meet on Wednesday nights, just to recharge our spiritual batteries and meet with friends.
You will find happy folks… and grouchy ones. Friendly people… and sometimes unfriendly people. Loving people…and cantankerous people. People who are learning…and people who already “know everything.”
We’re a diverse group, coming from various backgrounds and at different stages of knowledge and spiritual growth. We think the song by the singing group “Acappella” fits us well: We’re Growing Up In The Lord.
We don’t know it all – not even close. We don’t do everything right. We don’t always treat each other as we should. We were not brought together by any illusion of perfection or righteousness. We were brought together by our recognition that we are all sinners in need of the cleansing blood of Jesus. Mark 2:17; Romans 5:6-9; Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:7
That’s the reason we can worship together, stick together, help each other and with God’s help accomplish some things that make a difference in our lives and in our community.
You won’t have to look very far to find our faults and failures. We hope you will find that we love Jesus and love the Bible – God’s Word to guide us.
Adapted from "What You Can Expect When You Visit the Church of Christ" by Joe Barnett.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.