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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.

Background

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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.

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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

 

The Setting

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.

Offering

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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

Singing

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

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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.

Invitation

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.

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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

Lord´s Supper

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

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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.

The People

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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.


1 Peter 5:1-4 (HCSB)

 

Therefore, as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of the Messiah and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you: 2 Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Titus 1:5b-9 (HCSB)

 

… I directed you, to appoint elders in every town: 6 one who is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of wildness or rebellion. 7 For an overseer, as God’s administrator, must be blameless, not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not addicted to wine, not a bully, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.

1 Corinthians 16:1-2 (HCSB)

 

Now about the collection for the saints: You should do the same as I instructed the Galatian churches. 2 On the first day of the week, each of you is to set something aside and save in keeping with how he prospers, so that no collections will need to be made when I come.

1 Corinthians 14:15 (HCSB)

 

What then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with my understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with my understanding.

Ephesians 5:8,19 (HCSB)

 

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light–

19 speaking to one another
in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,
singing and making music
from your heart to the Lord,

Colossians 3:16 (HCSB)

 

Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Hebrews 2:11-13 (HCSB)

 

11 For the One who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers,
12 saying:

I will proclaim Your name to My brothers;
I will sing hymns to You in the congregation.

13 Again, I will trust in Him. And again, Here I am with the children God gave Me. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Matthew 23:8-12 (HCSB)

 

“But as for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called masters either, because you have one Master, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Galatians 3:26-28 (HCSB)

 

… for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ like a garment. 28 There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 2:5-9 (HCSB)

 

… you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it is contained in Scripture:

Look! I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and honored cornerstone,
and the one who believes in Him
will never be put to shame!

7 So honor will come to you who believe, but for the unbelieving,

The stone that the builders rejected —
this One has become the cornerstone,

8 and

A stone to stumble over,
and a rock to trip over.

They stumble because they disobey the message; they were destined for this.

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people for His possession,
so that you may proclaim the praises
of the One who called you out of darkness
into His marvelous light.

Acts 8:35-39 (HCSB)

 

So Philip proceeded to tell him the good news about Jesus, beginning from that Scripture.

36 As they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, “Look, there’s water! What would keep me from being baptized?” [37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] 38 Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him any longer. But he went on his way rejoicing.

Romans 6:3-4 (HCSB)

 

Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.

Colossians 2:12 (HCSB)

 

Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

Acts 2:38 (HCSB)

 

“Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 20:7 (HCSB)

 

On the first day of the week, we assembled to break bread. Paul spoke to them, and since he was about to depart the next day, he extended his message until midnight.

1 Corinthians 11:23-25 (HCSB)

 

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, 24 gave thanks, broke it, and said, “This is My body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

25 In the same way, after supper He also took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

Mark 2:17 (HCSB)

 

When Jesus heard this, He told them, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do need one. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Romans 5:6-9 (HCSB)

 

For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For rarely will someone die for a just person — though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. 8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! 9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath.

Ephesians 1:7 (HCSB)

 

We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace…

1 John 1:7 (HCSB)

 

But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.