We love to have visitors join us when we assemble together, and we will go out of our way to welcome you and make you feel at home. However, we know that it can be intimidating at first – especially if you are unsure about what all is going on. With that in mind, we wanted to give you a heads up as to what to expect when you join one of our assemblies.
We love God. After all that He has done for us, how could we not? One of the ways that we express that love is through worship both as individuals and as a group. That is why most of our assemblies are designed around worshiping God together. You will find us focusing our attention on God and His Word with reverent and thankful hearts.
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28)
Because we love God, we also respect him (Jn 14:15; 1 Jn 5:3), and that means that we strive to make sure that our worship is done in a way that is acceptable and pleasing to him. In other words, out of respect for God’s authority, we limit ourselves to expressions of worship which we know (from the Bible) that he approves of. That still leaves us with a variety of ways that we express our praise for God…
Throughout history, one of the most popular ways of expressing joy, love, praise, admiration, etc. has been in song. It should come as no surprise that God intends for us to use singing as a means of communicating those same things in our worship. In fact, he has commanded that we sing when we come together (e.g., Eph 5:19-20)! As a result, you will find us singing a variety of different songs which praise God and teach biblical lessons.
Two things about our singing usually stand out to newcomers. First, the whole congregation sings. The scriptures say nothing about choirs and the command to sing was for each individual, so we all sing as best we can. Second, you will not find any instruments accompanying our singing. This is not because we can’t afford them or don’t like them. While we find commands to sing, we find no mention of the early churches using instruments in their worship. Since we lack any authority to add to what the Lord commanded them to do, we refrain from using instruments.
A song leader will select the songs and will announce the number of the song he is about to lead the congregation in. Song books are available for all.
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. (Psalm 146:1-2)
The early disciples of Jesus – who were guided by inspired apostles – frequently engaged in prayer together. These prayers may be for any number of specific reasons, and our assemblies usually include several led by those who have been selected ahead of time.
The ability to confidently pour out our hearts before God’s throne is a wonderful blessing. Still, we are approaching the ruler of heaven and earth, so it is customary to show our humility (e.g., by bowing our heads).
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
The Lord’s Supper
On the night that Jesus was arrested and tried, he instituted a memorial feast to remember him by.
And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:22-25)
We partake of this same feast each Sunday since it seems this is what the early disciples did (Acts 20:7). Following one or more songs focused on the Lord, a brother will get up and read a passage which helps focus our minds on the blessings we have because of Jesus. Then, after a prayer of thanks, trays of unleavened bread (matzah) are passed around with each disciple present breaking off and eating a portion. This bread is meant to represent Jesus’ body which hung on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead three days later. Next, after another prayer of thanks, trays of grape juice are passed around. This is meant to represent the blood that Jesus shed on the cross and to remind us of the terrible cost that had to be paid in order for us to be forgiven of our sins.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (Paul, 1 Corinthians 11:26-29)
It is also appropriate that we study God’s word when we are together. Depending on the assembly, this may take the form of bible classes in which class discussion is encouraged, bible readings in which a longer passage is read before the congregation, or a bible-centered sermon in which a speaker will lecture on a particular passage or theme. The topics covered in these lessons vary widely since God’s word touches on nearly every facet of our lives. We don’t claim to have perfect understanding of God’s word, but we are eager to improve our understanding of his will for our lives. If you hear something taught that does not sound right, we urge you to talk with us about it afterward, and we’ll be happy to study it with you further.
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. (Psalm 119:15-16)
It is traditional at the end of sermons to offer an “invitation” for any who have not become disciples to indicate their desire to do so by coming to the front of the building while the congregation is standing and singing a song that invites obedience. However, those who desire to become Christians can also simply speak with one of us any time. Nothing could make us happier than assisting you in submitting yourself to the Lord! In the New Testament there were even those who were baptized in the middle of the night (Acts 16:30-33)!
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (John, Revelation 22:17)
Today, it is common for churches to raise money by just about any way they can, but in the New Testament, we only really see the early disciples meeting financial needs in one way – by voluntary collection of funds from the members. Following the instructions of Paul to the Corinthians, we collect our money together each Sunday to meet the financial needs of the congregation.
Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper… (Paul, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2)
While you, as a visitor, are welcome to contribute if you so desire, we are not soliciting your funds. It is intended as an opportunity for the members of the congregation to pool their money for the Lord’s work in this area. As a matter of convenience, the collection is usually taken up immediately following the Lord’s Supper, but the collection is a separate part of our worship of God.
A typical Sunday assembly
At around 9am, a song leader will announce a song to start us off. After singing that song, we are led in a prayer before someone presents a sermon from God’s word. At the end of that sermon, an invitation to become a Christian is offered and the congregation stands and sings a song to that effect. We then take a break of about five minutes.
At around 9:35, we start our bible classes. Classes are available for all ages, but adults typically stay in the auditorium for class. This class session goes until about 10:20 when we take about a 10 minute break.
At 10:30, a brother will welcome everyone and share some announcements with the congregation. Usually we sing a song and have a prayer following these announcements. After that prayer, we begin to focus our minds on Christ’s sacrifice with one or two songs on that topic. One of the men will then read a passage and then the congregation will partake of the Lord’s Supper together. Following the memorial feast, a collection is taken up. We then sing another song followed by a lesson from God’s word. At the end of this second sermon, another invitation is offered and an invitation song is sung. We then wrap up with some closing announcements and a prayer.
A typical Wednesday night bible study
On Wednesday evenings, our primary focus is bible study. Upon arriving, we separate into various classes (most adults are in the auditorium again), and begin the classes around 7:00. At around 7:45, everyone assembles in the auditorium where we sing a song, hear a brief message, and sing an invitation song. Any announcements that need to made are shared with the congregation and we are dismissed with a prayer.
Again, we are delighted to have visitors in our assemblies and we sincerely hope that you will join us! Be sure to stick around for a few minutes afterward to let us get to know you!Join us in our next assembly!