If you've never worshipped in a Protestant or Presbyterian church, but are thinking about visiting us some Sunday morning, let me explain what we do.
We start our service promptly at 10:00am. Since we just started services last September, we don't have our own building, yet. Instead, we rent the Pleasant Hills Middle School cafeteria. You'll see signs for Redemption Hill as you approach.
When you come in, you'll be greeted and given a bulletin like this one. The bulletin has the order of the service, song lyrics and the Scripture readings all in one place. There's coffee set up near bye, but we usually save that for after the service. Curtains divide off a portion of the room so that when you actually sit down, it's a simple, well-lit space conducive to worship.
If you have a child ages 0-4 years old, you'll have the option of checking them into our nursery before the service. Older children will stay with you. Most Sundays we have between 50-60 people. Our group is a mix of singles, families, children (we have about 15-20 children on most Sundays, from newborn to teens), and seniors.
You can sit wherever you please and the service will begin with a welcome and a 'call to worship.' This consists of the leader reading a Scripture where God calls people to worship him. These passages are often taken from the Psalms. After that, we stand to sing 1-2 songs. Typically one is a hymn and one is a contemporary worship song. Our musicians flex, but usually include some combination of acoustic guitar, piano, bass guitar and drums.
Following the song, we'll take 30 seconds or so to greet one another and then either stay standing for another song or two, or sit for a time of corporate prayer. When we pray as a group, people pray silently while the Pastor or another member prays. We'll often conclude with the Lord's Prayer, which we print in the worship guide. Another element that we usually include in the service is a time of quiet confession of sin, followed by hearing the promise of God's forgiveness through a passage read from the Bible. There is some variation as to when we do these based on the overall flow of the service.
At this point, we usually take our offering. This is a continuation of our worship, and our giving makes possible the work of the ministry. Sometimes we'll sing while seated during the offering. This is usually a more reflective song. We don't expect visitors to give money. The financial support of the church is the work of her members. Members and regular attenders give using either checks, cash or online beforehand. The baskets are passed quickly and you can just pass it along. We also don't take pledges at the beginning of the year, and the Pastor doesn't know who gives what. Because we're a smaller congregation, this portion of the service only takes a minute or two.
After this, we'll typically dismiss any 5 year old to 3rd graders who want to go to Teaching Time. This is a class led by two adults which meets in a separate room. Usually we have 6-10 kids in this class. During this time, they usually do some 'get the wiggles out' stuff and pray. Then the teacher reads the Bible reading for that day (currently the children are reading the book of Acts together) and they'll ask the kids what they heard. The children re-tell the story, filling in details and taking turns. The teacher will also ask questions that are either "what does it mean" or more broadly, "What do we learn about God or Jesus in this passage?" "What do we learn about ourselves?" etc. The goal of this time is to teach our children the Bible and the gospel - that God saves sinners through Jesus Christ. We don't typically do crafts, but each child has their own notebook that they will use during that time to write in and draw pictures. We have some extras handy for visiting children. This class is done when the sermon is over. The teachers bring the students back into the main room where they re-join their parents for the very end of the service.
While the children are in Teaching Time, Pastor Peter preaches his sermon. This typically goes from 25-35 minutes and involves a thorough explanation of the passage, with a strong focus on application in our every day lives. You will hear Scripture taught and applied from what we call a gospel perspective. That means we're always looking at things from the viewpoint of living as disciples of Jesus, saved by God's grace through faith, not through our own works and efforts.
On the second Sunday of each month we celebrate the Lord's Supper. We do this by having our elders first distribute the gluten-free crackers in a plate through the congregation. This meal is open to all believers who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and are part of a church that teaches the same. After we eat the bread, we distribute the wine and juice. We use little communion cups and specify which are filled with wine and which are juice. After the cups are distributed, we all take it together at the Pastor's instruction.
After the sermon and/or communion, we close with a final song that we all sing together. Announcements are made and a final benediction is pronounced. You are then welcome to stay and enjoy coffee (or some snacks for kids), or you can run if you need to.
Our services usually go about an hour and fifteen minutes. On the second Sundays, the sermon is shorter and we do not have Teaching Time. Children who are not in the nursery stay in the service with us, and we usually do a song that's geared toward them and have a teaching lesson that's also just for them. On these Sundays, we also take prayer requests from the congregation during the service and pray for them.
If you have more detailed questions about our service, or why we do certain things, you can email Pastor Peter Doerfler.
If you are looking for a church, but coming from another tradition, we hope this was helpful. We firmly believe that all true churches are one, and are ruled by Jesus Christ, the head of the church. You are welcome to come join us any Sunday.