Candy at www.keepingthehome.com has a post we can join about our churches. I decided to post about my church here:
My church is an Assembly of God church, though we're actually quite different from many AG churches.
First of all, the church is established in a building over 200 years old with the original pews. It's a beautiful brick building nestled in the northern part of an historic small city. Sometimes, before service of course, I like to imagine all those hoop skirts and wool suits sitting in the pews and in the balconies. The church also has one of the oldest working pipe organs in the United States, although we don't use it.
My brother is the pastor, the only pastor. It's still a small congregation and although we've had it in prayer, the Lord has seen it fit to not send us an assistant pastor. However, we have two wonderful, Godly deacons who will fill the role should pastor be ill.
Many AG churches are NIV churches, but not mine. We're KJV ONLY. In fact, when we have guest speakers, it always takes us by surprise when they read from the NIV.
We are a pentecostal church, but we don't swing from the rafters, quake in our seats, or pass out when someone touches our foreheads. We don't dance in the aisles or play loud rock-like music. We're actually quite traditional. My pastor believes in a spirit-led and spirit-filled worship, not a worship that induces an emotional out-come. We adhere to the Bible saying, "Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs." Yes, we do believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including speaking in tongues. However, we don't just let people blab away in jibberish. The Bible says that if someone speaks in tongues publically, there is to be an interpretation. Also, my pastor makes sure that what was said aheres strictly to the Word of God.
My pastor also does not believe in advertising or feel-good ministries. He believes in the whole, true Word of God, the happy parts and the "make you twitch in your pew" parts. Because of this, we've lost many congregants, but the ones who've stayed and who've joined have become some of the strongest Christians I know! God's Truth hurts, and it's hard and it's even offensive to our worldly minds and hearts, but it's His Truth and it sets us free!
We do have children's church and nursery care. Having grown up in a different AG church that had a very poor children's church, I'm quite wary of sending my son to children's church (although I do utilize the nursery.) However, I've talked to my mother, who's a children's church teacher and I learned that the lesson plans the church orders for the children's church is actually quite good and indepth and full of the meat of God's Word, rather than watered-down "be nice, feel nice" semi-Bible stories.
However, one Sunday a month is our family and communion service. This means that that there is no children's church and that children are to stay with their parents and the parents are to teach their children what the sermon was about. The nursery remains open, but no child over the age of 3 is allowed.
Sunday School occurs before the regular Sunday service. If you were to visit my church for the regular Sunday service, here's what you'd encounter:
You'd walk into the foyer and be greeted by smiling faces and people chatting, and no less than two official greeters who will welcome you, hand you a bullitin, and probably a visitor's package. Then, you'll make your way into the sanctuary and find yourself a pew. No one should bother you about sitting in their pew because pastor had a whole sermon at one point about how wrong and rude and unchristian-like it is for insist that you have your own pew. If you didn't receive a visitor's package, usually during this time one of our deacons would have spotted you and given you one with a hearty handshake and welcome.
As you sit in the pew and look around, you'll see groups gathered chatting, and a group down front praying fervently. This is our "prayer furnace." Anyone can join in. Often, there are individuals kneeling down in front or in their pews praying.
Pastor will enter after his own prayer time in his study and, if he sees you, he'll greet you and welcome you. So will his wife, if she's not in the nursery nursing their baby.
Service starts with Pastor saying, "Good Morning! God is good!" The congregation heartily replies, "All the time!" It's just a little fun thing we do. :) Announcements, prayer requests, Bible reading, prayer, song service, prayer, children to children's church, tithes and offerings, sermon, prayer/alter call/whatever the Lord leads us. This isn't the strictest schedule. As the Lord leads us, there have been times of a song service cut short in favor of prayer and worship to the Lord, or prayers from someone with a special need, or prayers for a need in our community or the world.
My church is very much into evangelism, too. Our most blessed evangelism ministry is to several nursing homes. We also heartily support missions.
We no longer have the typical AG must-haves of mens and womens ministries. Nor do we have "Royal Rangers" or "Missionettes." We tried mens and womens ministries in the past, but they were not blessed nor edifying, so they were done away with. While a youth pastor is on our prayer-list, God hasn't seen fit to send us one yet. PERSONALLY, I think it's for the best. As we are now, we're just one big family in Christ...no cliques or seemingly exclusive club-like ministries. No distracting, obligatory youth programs to separate parents from their children.
We don't mind "distractions" such as a baby crying, a toddler breaking loose and running around the sanctuary, a mentally handicapped person moaning or shouting out, or even an elderly, sickly man snoring. It's just all part of the service...all part of the family that we are. I don't know how many times my son recieved chuckles from the congregation when he thought the pastor preaching was the pastor talking one on one with him, and so he responded in kind! Everyone loves it when we end a worship song and Bubby claps his hands and yells, "Yay!"
It's a bit of a distance from where I live to my church, although I'm not the farthest congregant. My other brother and his wife and daughter drive an hour an half one way just to attend this church. I've had people suggest I go to a church closer to home, but my church is home. I can't imagine going to another church. I don't feel called to another church. I'm happy where I am.