What to Expect When You Show Up.
So you are actually going to step inside of those churchy doors… Welcome! It’s good to have you. Showing up for your first time can be a major event, or just another day, depending on your exposure to the church and background. It’s likely that you did some homework on the location, congregation, and Christian flavor you are getting into. A good church will make the visitor process easy and clean for you.
A First Time Attendee!
In most places, there is a deliberate process set out for visitors and first time attendees. A whole lot of coffee mug gifts, fun text messages, and personal greetings are thrown at new attendees. It is really all genuine, but does not reflect the typical attendance model that you will be signing up for. Take it all in stride, but know that it is a one time deal. The church wants to make new people feel special, with hopes that you will become old people, and then help support the recruitment of new people. It’s not an evil scheme, but more of a necessary one, as all churches undergo a level of turnover and need to re-populate in order to survive. As a last note, this welcome is not a given, and does reflect the outreach efforts of a church community. The whole experience shows how much new members are valued amongst the congregation, and may indicate how much seniority weighs in church dynamics. Welcome to all!
Bread and Wine.
If you show up on designated weeks, it is likely that the church will celebrate communion. This entails the symbolic body and blood of Christ, as shown with wafers and grape juice, to commemorate the death, and rising, of Jesus. Of note…. You do not need to partake in communion. Many places will make this clear, but some will lead the group through the procedure without an “out” given to the attendees. The bottom line is that communion is a once a month occurrence, and if it happens, you are justified in passing on the procedure. No harm done. If you have shown up a few times, and have accepted Jesus Christ, then have at it boss.
Instawitter and FaceGram.
Now that title is just terrible. Most churches that come up on the radar are mastering the information spaces. Facebook, youtube, maybe instagram, and the like. The great strength of the Christian church over the last 2,000 years is that it modifies itself to survive. When pagans refused to abandon old rituals and gods, the church absorbed those rituals and gods, and shaped them into Christian practices. A pretty brilliant business model. All leading us to the 21st century. Cultural sentiment and technology as it is, the modern church is adapting to thrive in the new environment. Those churches that embrace new technology and mediums of communication are likely the ones that will survive, and likely the ones that you will find yourself in. Whatever the status, ensure that you get linked in and are comfortable with the level of contact. Any missteps should be easily solved with a quick de-enroll or blocker on your end.
They Will Not Accept You.
It's a lie. They will. But certainly not right way, and certainly not without a display that you are there for the community. Members of a church want new members, and they want new allies in their belief system. They are also cautious in their approach as Christianity is a convenient villain in the modern rhetoric. While new members are welcomed, there is a show of dedication required for brother or sister status. That show of dedication may be attending services for a said number of weeks, or participating in certain group events, but either way, it is a human defined comfort zone. The point is that they want to, and will, accept you once you have proven that you are on the team. As a last point, there is much more to the gang than service once a week. Many people find their best times and closest relationships during small group activity within the church. Maybe they meet around services, or during week nights, or through some video chat method. Seek out a group that appeals to you in its members, focus, and meeting arrangements to expedite the acceptance process.
A good church makes it easy to show up, and to keep showing up, as a new member. Yes, there will be a membership process that will take up to a year. And yes, you will have to win the trust of the current congregation. The good news is that everyone along the way is pulling for you. They are thankful that you showed up. Thankful that you brought your family. Thankful that you are contributing. Thankful that you are representing the group. While each church will be a bit different in their service, child care, security, Christian flavor, and more, the key discriminator is that you find a place that works for you and your family moving forward. That place is out there, and we believe that you will find it. God Bless.