Visiting Churches

Three Noteworthy Things About Church (Visiting Church #47)

Three significant actions stand out from church today:

1. Here’s What to Expect

“Let me tell you what to expect in our service.” A lady takes time to explain their worship style and reveals they take communion every week. “It’s an open communion.” I nod, glad to know.

I ponder this question every time a church we visit serves communion—and seldom is the answer clear. “You may partake whenever you want…we don’t do it all together.”

I nod again. No one in the past 46 weeks has told us what to expect. Her thoughtfulness makes so much sense.

52 Churches: A Yearlong Journey Encountering God, His Church, and Our Common Faith

We’ve had communion many times on our journey, but today is the first where I’m free to focus on the moment and don’t need to worry about the method.

When format overshadows substance, meaning is lost. Today, I’m truly able to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

2. Conversation with God

Before the minister starts his sermon, he pauses to pray, turning his back to us to face the cross behind him. I appreciate the symbolism, reminding us that prayer is not an obligation to complete but a conversation with God.

3. Pray for Others

After the service a man introduces himself. I share our names and tell him about our sojourn. He asks, “How can I pray for you?”

I applaud his question. “You know…we’ve visited 46 churches and this is the first time someone’s asked us this—I really appreciate it.”

“And this is the first time I’ve asked.” We simultaneously acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit. “…and I’m going to start doing it more often.”

He thanks me for the encouragement, and my wife and I share a concern with him. I know he’ll pray for us, perhaps even as we head to our car.

[Read about Church #46 and Church #48, start at the beginning of our journey, or learn more about Church #47.]

My wife and I visited a different Christian Church every Sunday for a year. This is our story. Get your copy of 52 Churches today, available in ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

5 replies on “Three Noteworthy Things About Church (Visiting Church #47)”

What did I miss? I read you were (1) greeted and instructed before the service – and afterwards (3) were asked how you could be prayed for. You appreciated that the pastor prayed toward the cross before the sermon (2). Was the formal liturgy the disappointment? The message? Inquiring minds want to know!
I love reading these as it gives me ideas on how to better greet the visitors at my church. If there’s delicious bread and no meat in the middle, it doesn’t make for a very tasty sandwich.
Also, you inspire me. It’s just good, easy reading. Thanks

You’re not the first to ask that question — but the first to do so here. Thanks!

This might just be my issue, but what I wanted to communicate is that these friendly and engaging people became stiff and formal once the service started. They stayed that way until the service ended. The dichotomy was too much for me to grasp. So, that makes me wonder:

1) It is okay to be reserved in worship and friendly in fellowship?
2) It is possible to have a liturgical service that is not stoic and reserved?

For the first item, my perspective is no, but I could be wrong. For the second item, I’ve never experienced it, but want to.

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