If you’re not already involved in a church, it can be terribly hard to choose one, let alone having to break the ice and turn up.
Here are some pointers:
1. If you’ve ever been to a nearby church at Christmas, you’ll already have some idea of how they do things and what to expect. Maybe you could try that church first.
2. If you have churchgoing friends, they might be able to advise you on which one they think would suit you best. Also, you could go to church with them. It’s easier being with someone you know, and they can explain things and show you the ropes.
3. Many churches have websites. This may give a you a bit of a feel for the church, and will at least tell you the times of services.
4. Some churches (mainly Anglican and Catholic ones) are open during the day whether there’s a service on or not. How about paying a visit when things are quiet? It’s less intimidating, and simply walking through the door and sitting about for a bit might make it easier and more comfortable for you when you go to a service.
5. Once you’re in the service - sitting at the back, naturally - you can pretty much follow what everybody else does. If it’s a communion service (also known as eucharist, Mass, Lord’s supper) don’t feel you have to have the bread and wine. The church will probably be quite used to people not joining in this part, and in fact they may well prefer those who aren’t baptised believers to sit it out.
6. Sit near the door. If the worst comes to the worst, you can leg it.
There are many different kinds of churches – which is right for you? It’s hard to generalise, but here’s a very rough guide.
Church services are on a spectrum: at the one end you have lots of ritual, priests in robes, incense, ornate ornaments, choirs and organs; at the other end you have sermons, guitars and drums, ministers (male and female) in ordinary clothes, spontaneous prayers, plain buildings. The spectrum (very roughly) goes: Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal. Having said that, your local Anglican church could be almost anywhere on the spectrum.
“Church is the most fantastic place. It’s sanctuary. They should be open 24 hours a day. They’re the only place left in London where you don’t have to buy anything. You can… rest your weary feet. We know what they look like. Let’s get in them.”
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Jesus was someone who stretched the faith of people around him. He constantly dared people to see things differently, to act differently and to take steps of faith towards God.
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