Visiting a church for the first time can be intimidating. You often don’t know what to expect. You’d love to ask, but you’re not sure who to ask or even if your question sounds silly. It’s not. Probably others have the same question as you.
Recently someone who watches our services on television said they would love to come in person, but they didn’t think they had anything appropriate to wear. It literally broke my heart to think someone wouldn’t attend because they didn’t think they had the right clothes.
But, I get their response. It would almost be easier not to visit than to wear the wrong thing. It would be the less complicated safer choice.
I’m glad, however, I was able to assure this person they didn’t need to dress to impress in our church.
It made me think some other questions people may have about visiting a church the first time. I thought of some of the more common. This post has been tweaked a couple times over the years, but actually originated in one of our lead staff meetings. Someone suggested, “Why don’t you compile a list of of the top questions people may be wondering, but haven’t asked, and write about it?” Okay, here you go.
Keep in mind, this is written for the church where I currently serve as pastor – Immanuel, but I suspect most will be true for many churches you would visit for Easter. And, I’m nearly positive about this – most pastors would prefer you ask rather than wonder and not visit at all.
So, if you don’t know, ask. Please.
Here are 7 frequently asked questions about visiting Easter weekend:
What should I wear?
At Immanuel Baptist Church, you’ll see all styles of dress. Some will wear suit and tie and dresses and hats for women. Some will wear jeans and t-shirts. We may even see shorts if the weather is warm enough. To answer your question, choose an outfit you already own, one you feel comfortable in, and join us. (No speedos please, but that’s just a personal request, otherwise, you’ll be fine. 🙂 )
What will we do? What can I expect?
We will have a fairly typical worship schedule. We will sing some songs, have a short greeting time, I’ll share a message (my intent is always to share truth, grace, and ultimately hope), and we will sing some more. We will attempt to have a blend of songs and music all ages can enjoy. And, yes, in full transparency, and in case you’re wondering, we will receive an offering. Our offerings support the full range of ministries we offer in the church, community, and around the world. You are not required, however, to participate during this time unless you choose to do so.
Will you embarrass me?
I certainly hope not. It will be a primary goal not to do so. I don’t personally like to be embarrassed when I visit somewhere new, even in a church – and I’m a pastor. Our goal is to create an environment which is comfortable for all. You WILL NOT be singled out as a visitor. We don’t make visitors stand, raise their hand, or even fill out a card if you choose not to do so. (You certainly won’t be asked to sing a solo, unless you sing really, really loud – and then you’re on your own. 🙂 )
How long will the service last?
Slightly more than an hour. I’d love to say an hour, but sometimes the service ends up being an hour and 5 or 10 minutes frequently. At the most, you’ll be with us for an hour and 15 minutes. (Walking to and from the car time and all.)
What time should I arrive?
What a great question! I’m really trying to help when I suggest you get here a few minutes early. Maybe even as many as 10 or 15 minutes early. It takes a little while to make your way through our building, especially if you have children to check into our children’s areas or this is your first time. We especially want you to find a seat where you are most comfortable (some want up close – some want in the middle – some like me if I were visiting on the back row), and you’ll feel more acclimated to the room if you have a few minutes to adjust before the service begins. We have a special Easter bulletin you can be reading while you wait for the service to start.
Do you have something for children?
Absolutely. Birth through 5th grade have their own activities designed especially for them. They will enjoy a worship experience which will engage them at their level. Of course, we don’t keep you from bringing children with you in the worship service if this is more comfortable on a first visit, but our experience is they truly do enjoy the service designed for them. Either way, we love when entire families join us Easter Sunday.
Can I only come one time? Really, for what am I signing up when I come Easter Sunday?
There’s no obligation beyond Easter Sunday. It’s a “free look”. Promise. Being honest, we do ask you to fill out a contact card and, if you do, we will follow up with you. And I hope you do. I love seeing who God brought to us as visitors. I love meeting visitors. But, even if you fill out a card, we allow you to tell us how you want to be contacted. Phone, email, social media, or visit – or none – you tell us. We won’t put any unfair pressure on you to ever come again. Being totally transparent, we hope you will. We would love if Easter triggered a desire in you to be a part of our church family, but that’s totally your call – not ours.
I hope this answers some questions of those who think about visiting our church. I’d be honored if you are our guest.
What other questions do you have? Seriously, I’d rather you asked.