It’s a warm, life-changing experience! I can remember as if it were yesterday – my first visit to this church. I must admit I was a bit apprehensive. Questions rolled through my mind. What would it be like? Would I be accepted? Would I feel comfortable?
Well, let me tell you, I was made to feel right at home. It was like being in a family. The people were of a variety of ages, backgrounds and cultures. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
Although many years have passed since my first contact, I will never forget the people who made me feel at home. There was an elderly lady who was like a grandmother to me. She always had the time to listen to me, which encouraged me greatly.
Then there was another young person who went out of his way to befriend me. He became a close friend and mentor. It was good to have a peer for support as I learned the ways of God. The church provided a warm and nurturing environment in which God matured me in Jesus Christ.
And then there were the pastors. They had a warm and caring heart for people. I asked them for a visit to answer some of my questions. They were able to relate to me and help me understand God’s Word more clearly. I felt inspired after the visit. A few months later they baptized me into Jesus Christ. It is an event I will never forget as long as I live. (letter from a member from Georgia)
Equipping the saints
It is the role of the ministry “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13).
We seek to accomplish this in a number of ways. The most important one is weekly church services. The emphasis of our church services is on discipleship and teaching in an environment of praise and worship of God.
Praise has a way of inspiring our hearts and focusing our minds on God. So we start our services by praising God with joyful congregational songs. Then someone leads us in prayer for God’s inspiration on the service. Then one or two people may speak. The main message, usually given by the pastor, may cover a chapter of the Bible or any of a broad range of subjects, including our relationships with God, family and the community. In all our messages, Jesus Christ is the center and focus, for he is the One who empowers us to live the Christian life. After the sermon, we sing a final hymn and close the service with prayer.
Helping one another
After the prayer, an informal part of our worship takes place – fellowshipping. Our members enjoy spending time together in friendly conversation and discussion. God inspired the phrase “one another” to be used many times in the Bible. We have responsibilities “to one another.” God wants us to interact with each other and to encourage one another in our walk with him.
Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us: “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
We also maintain a number of support services that help to nurture people. For children, we usually offer classes that explore how the Bible and Jesus are relevant to their lives. We teach biblical truths with words and activities that help them understand God’s love for them.
Some members also meet with one another in small groups during the week. They pray together, discuss biblical teachings, encourage one another, and form bonds of love and friendship that draw us closer together. Some churches also have groups to serve the special needs and interests of single people and senior citizens. Educational seminars may provide instruction about family life, job success and interpersonal relationships.
The aim of these programs is to better equip Christians to reach out and serve others with the love of Jesus Christ. We are to make a difference in the lives of people. We are called to be participants, not just spectators.
Church attendance and church programs are not ends in themselves, but are means to accomplish the commission Christ gives to his church: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Come and worship God with us. You’ll find it a rewarding experience.