As for any “dress code,” well, we’re pretty casual – so no need to dress formally unless you prefer that. The important thing to know is that when it comes to what God cares about (our heads and hearts), well-worn jeans are as good as a tailored linen suit.
When you arrive, you can get a hot cup of Dunkin’ Donuts™ coffee, or a bottle from our water bar. Instrumental music will be playing, but we don’t expect it to be a hushed quiet in the meeting/sanctuary area, so feel free to greet folks you know (or those who at least look friendly!).
We spend the first half hour with all the kids and adults together in a wonderful format one might describe as “prayerful singing.” We typically call it “worship” because the lyrics of the songs often describe God’s personality and nature as revealed through history, the Bible, and in the day-to-day experiences of contemporary song writers.
You’ll see a few people bowing their heads, a few raising their hands and other just closing their eyes and unplugging from the chaos of the week. It supposed to be a sweet form of communion with God, not just singing.
If you have children from infant to age three, we offer supervised care for the whole service in the Community Center’s excellent, well-lit and colorfully decorated nursery room. You can drop your child there right when we start at 10:30, or you can do what several parents do: enjoy the singing/worship portion of the service together with your child. And if s/he is young enough, while in your arms or riding your shoulders. Yes, it’s OK to do that in church!
For school-age kids, we offer a dynamic all-combined class that begins at 11:00, just after singing/worship (so if you’re a young family, you can enjoy that first 20-25 minutes together). We have a rotation of four excellent lead teachers with volunteer assistants for classroom effectiveness, safety and accountability.
By 11:00 a.m., we dismiss the children to their KidzChurch class and have a short break for the kids to transition and for the congregation to enjoy a 5-minute meet & greet.
Philosophically, our goal is to teach the kids to love life, love themselves, love others, and love Jesus. The teaching teams see themselves more as mentors or shepherds for the kids, not just educators.
We also strive to make the classroom experience more fun than regular school, so we look for ways to involve their five senses, encourage participation (this side of controlled chaos!) and, of course, serve the all-important snack.
Our hope is to challenge our students to love each other, to know and love God, and to adopt a lifestyle of being Christ’s ambassadors.
Since the fall of 2013, we’ve had a growing youth ministry called Illuminate, which includes a servant/leadership team called Ignition.
Illuminate Student Ministries
Next, the sermon, is typically part of a study progression through a particular book, letter or biography from the Bible. We are acutely aware, however, that we are not “preaching to the choir” (we don’t even have a choir!). Some of us are committed Christians who have been students of the Bible for some time, while others of us are still pretty skeptical; others are curious and open, but certainly not committed, and many are new enough to Christianity that the Bible is still imposing and a bit confusing.
Therefore, we try hard to make the sermons free of religious language, simple in their thrust, culturally relevant, and not just informational, but (please God!) actually transformational.
At the end of the service, we celebrate Holy Communion and/or conclude with a benediction and final song of blessing.
Regarding the celebration of Communion – also know as “the Eucharist” by our Catholic and Episcopal friends – we celebrate that ancient and beautiful sacrament every week. On the first and third Sundays of the month, we celebrate communion in the traditional way, but on the other Sundays, we offer it on a side table for people to partake/celebrate at any point during the service.
Are there restrictions on who can take Holy Communion? No and yes. We let anyone come to the “Lord’s Table” regardless of religious standing, denominational affiliation, age, etc. We do ask, however, that each person understand that the Apostle Paul said we are “proclaiming the Lord’s death” (1Cor. 11:26) and resurrection when we receive the bread & wine, so Communion is for those who are willing to essentially vote/agree with their feet(!).