Visiting an unfamiliar congregation can be intimidating. Let’s take away the mystery so you know exactly what to expect.
You Are Among Friends. When you come through our doors, expect to be welcomed! Greeters will meet you as you come in, extend a warm handshake and answer any immediate questions you may have (such as "Where is a class for my children?" or "Where can we sit?"). We are glad you chose to visit us and we think you'll be glad too!
A Setting for Worship
Worship services are held just inside the front door. Sit anywhere you feel comfortable. Before worship begins (10:00 AM Bible Study, 11:00 AM Worship Service, and 6:00 PM Evening Service), there's a lot of "visiting" going on. That's because we are all part of a big, wonderful family! Many folks will talk to you and welcome you to our assembly. You are our honored guest! And we will be glad to welcome you on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM for bible study.
Tell Us About You
Worship services normally begin with a brief introduction and welcome. We will ask you to fill out our "Visitors Card". You will find them on the pew in front of you. We use these cards as a means of communicating important things: prayer requests, updates on family members, Bible questions and visitor information. Yes, you are important to us!
We regard the Bible as the inerrant (incapable of being wrong), inspired word of God! During our worship service, we will have a scripture reading. This has two purposes. First, standing shows our respect. If someone of great importance walked into the room, you likely would stand to give this person honor. The scriptures represent the mind of the One who created the universe! We should give Him our respect! Second, the message from God's word is worthy of our attention. Standing and either listening to or following along in our own Bibles helps us focus our attention on the reading.
Singing is a special opportunity to worship God. When we feel happy, we often sing! It's natural. It's no surprise then that God would want us to channel some of our worship through singing. If you want to follow along or don't know the words, just pick up a hymnal right in front of you. The song leader will give us the key and soon we are singing together. . . in harmony!. . .and we try to make it just as beautiful and joyful as we can! But what you won't hear are musical instruments. Frankly, we don't need them! But the reason we sing without instruments is not merely our preference. We want to worship God according to the New Testament pattern. And that pattern does not indicate that instrumental music was used or desired. Many visitors unfamiliar with "A Cappella" (an Italian term originally meaning “in the manner of the church” which has now come to popularly mean “without instrumental accompaniment”) music are deeply moved by this experience--it's all a part of God's plan! (cf. Eph. 5:19 Rom. 10:3)
Prayer is our communication to God. While each Christian should pray often and in private, we, as a congregation, pray together. A man will walk to the front and speak a prayer. We all try to focus our attention on his words and make his prayer our own. We are commanded to pray for each other, so this prayer may include many specific names and circumstances. Prayer changes things!
Expect to hear a Bible-based sermon which will encourage faithful Christian living. Our Preacher's are not given special religious titles such as "pastor" or "reverend," nor does he wear any special garments to set them apart from others. That's because all Christians are viewed by God as "priests." (1 Peter 2:9)
A sermon usually concludes with an invitation to respond personally to the message. One of our elders (a specially-qualified man who serves as a congregational leader) will meet with everyone who responds and talk with them about their particular need.
The Lord’s Supper
Each Sunday we follow the New Testament pattern by sharing the Lord's Supper. The unleavened bread and grape juice are each distributed throughout the assembly. The Lord's Supper or "communion" is a both solemn and joyful occasion. Jesus commanded that His followers observe this as a means to remember the price He paid for our sins. It is sad to think that Jesus had to suffer and die to redeem us. But it is wonderful to think that He loves each one of us that much! (cf. 1 Cor. 11:23-26)
Giving is a way of expressing our gratitude for God's blessings. Each Christian should cheerfully give to support the works which God has directed. However, you--our guest--are not expected to give. As the collection basket comes to you, please just pass it along. (cf. 1 Cor. 16:1-2)
Some Final Thoughts about Worship
The Ripon church of Christ seeks to worship God according to Christ's command: "in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). To worship God "in spirit" requires that we come to God with a humble attitude, understanding that our salvation in Christ is not by our own righteousness or works, but by God's grace (Ephesians 2:8,9). We humbly come to God to worship Him, and He lifts us up (James 4:10) with the understanding of His love for all men through His Son Jesus (John 3:16) and the anticipation of being in Christ's presence for all eternity! (I Thessalonians 4:17, 18). Worshipping God at the Ripon church of Christ is a humble celebration of the love we share in Christ and our anticipation of heaven!! Equally important is worshipping God "in truth." The New Testament gives specific commands, shows positive examples or implications of how the church worshipped God during the period of inspired guidance--the first century. Rather than trusting man-made ideas on how we should worship God, we trust God's word, the Bible, to provide the pattern of how we should worship Him. Worshipping God this way is refreshingly simple and clear. There is no need for great ceremony or the slickness of a stage show. Together, we - pray (I Timothy 2:1) - sing songs that teach the truth and encourage Christian living (Colossians 3:16) - are reminded of God's will for our lives as we hear the preaching of God's word (Acts 10:42) - give to help others and support the many works of the church (II Corinthians 9:7) - "break bread," (Acts 20:7) by partaking of the bread and grape juice, simply called the Lord's Supper (I Corinthians 11:20). Worshipping God in truth is truly a time of fellowship with God, His Son Jesus, His Holy Spirit and God’s children, the church. Worshipping God in spirit and in truth is a time we look forward to! It's a time of learning, spiritual growth and encouragement. It’s a time of peace and personal reflection. It's a time for receiving God's love and mercy.
Isn't it time you were there?