Visiting a new church

Have you ever visited a new church by yourself? I did that today!

I wanted to experience a more local church so I did some online recon for churches in my area.I discovered that in my suburb we have many denominations represented! One that stood out for me was the Friend of God church. It’s a smaller version of the multi-campus church I am used to. 

It’s just down the road from where I live so I pass it every time I visit the mall or library. They also host multiple services which told me the service will not run too long.

I went alone with the kids. I just checked the service times on their Facebook page and arrived on time. I was a bit apprehensive about going by myself but I was also excited.

What do you wear when visiting a new church?

Because I didn’t know what the dress code was I erred on the side of caution and dressed modestly. I wore my new Autumn dress from Exact with strappy sandals as it’s always a winner. I know I won’t be judged by my clothes but it’s always good to be respectful. Also I wanted to make a good first impression.

The kids were also dressed smart casual. Alex wore a very pretty white Sunday school dress. Church is the one time I don’t moan about her wildling ways ruining her party dresses! Joshua forgot to brush his hair (oh my shame) but at least he traded his usual sneakers for high-tops.

First impression of the new church

When we walked up the steps the ushers were very friendly and welcomed us to church. They were dressed in suits so I panicked a bit! However I was relieved to note that the dress code seemed varied. Some were in jeans and others in suits so we blended right in.

Sunday school

One of the reasons I chose Friend of God church was because the Sunday school classes run during the service. It was the same for me when I was younger. In fact, the church reminded me a bit of my childhood church.

I asked the ushers for directions to the Sunday school and was directed to a large room. I introduced both the kids to the Sunday school teacher. I told her that it was our first time and she warmly welcomed us.  She seemed really pleased to have first time visitors in her class! She asked them their ages and then acquainted them with other kids exactly their age. Before I could warn them under my breath to behave and have fun they were gone! They just sat down with their new friends and forgot all my about me!

The church service

Inside the main auditorium I was surprised to see it’s much bigger it looks from the outside. The seats were not filled to capacity but the congregation was large. I seated myself in the middle of the section just to the left of the stage. Sitting near to the stage proved to be a poor decision once the service got going. It was loud!

The guy seated next to me gave me a friendly hello which made me blurt out that it was my first time visiting. He seemed very pleased and when his wife sat on the empty seat between us he told her too. She was funny! Throughout the service she would make comments like “yes, that devil didn’t stand a chance!” and “you tell them pastor!”.

The flow of the service

The service flow was very smooth. Not too long and church news was broadcast off the big screen by video.

The praise and worship was amazing. Too often the praise & worship is rushed. Maybe it’s because of Easter but this morning it was so good! Not rushed at all. We only sang two or three songs but the focus was completely on giving glory to God. The whole congregation was really into the worship and it Spirit-filled. The worship team featured a song called, “The cross has the final word” and it blessed my heart.

The service was done in both English and Afrikaans but not so much Afrikaans that I couldn’t follow. I even sang to the Lord in Afrikaans although I missed a few words here and there! And of course there was that one awkward moment where I belted out the chorus thinking it was happening when it wasn’t…

The message was insightful and I found the pastor’s teaching style very engaging. The teaching was sound and definitely learned something.

Holy communion was served by the elders I think. The church has a pastor and a bishop. Not the kind in a black robe just a normal suit. The bishop and his wife served my holy communion. I think I heard it said that they’ve been with the church for 52 years!

Be careful what you let in

I’ve learned to be very careful when hearing or reading Christian doctrine. Some of what I read or hear is self-serving. I always ask God to help me discern between good doctrine and false teaching. This morning I felt at ease. Everything about the service glorified the Lord and honored Him.

I also noted that when Pastor Gerald Ferreira came onstage to share the message he first prayed. He asked God to bless his message and His Word and that He would speak to us. He honored God. When the bishop concluded the service he also did the same. Although I wasn’t quite prepared for the very loud “Shalom!” shouted by the congregation at the end.

After the service, I collected the kids, promised the ushers that yes, I would visit again and I’m sure I will. The kids enjoyed themselves at Sunday school although they struggled a bit with the Afrikaans bits.

Visiting with the family after church

Would I visit again?

I enjoyed the service and I think I would definitely visit again. Hopefully with my husband in tow next time so I’m not such an odd duck!

My experience visiting a new church by myself definitely made me empathetic towards the single or socially inept. It can be daunting when you’re alone. On the other hand, once I took the focus off myself I could really enjoy the service and focus on God. That’s when I enjoyed having nothing to distract me.

When was the last time you visited a different church? What was your experience like? What were the positives and negatives?