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Visiting Churches


robbie
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:wave:

 

Hey everyone...now that Easter's out of the way I'm thinking of going to a different church in my city every Sunday (or at least every Sunday I can be bothered and haven't got too bad of a hangover :HaHa: ).

 

Don't worry...I'm not looking for Jesus or anything. It's just that I've never been to any religious service except Catholic ones and being the big ol' theology geek that I am I'm really interested in checking out some others.

 

So, I was just wondering, as we've got people that used to be in a huge variety of denominations, has anyone got any idea what I can expect in some of the different churches? And if there's anything I should know about how to act..oh, and if they're going to hypnotise me or something. :shrug::lmao: And how long the service is going to be...am I likely to get people cornering me and trying to convert me...will they be wary about new people?? Everything really.

 

AFAIK we've got all the major protestant denominations in the city, so pretty much anything would be handy.

 

Cheers. :goodjob:

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Hmmm.... I've always wanted to do that, too.

Anyway. If you're going to attend a Pentecostal church for the first time, you should go to the evening service. In my experience, this is when they're most likely to be moved by the Spirit and all that, and speak in tongues and stuff.

I grew up with it, so it doesn't bother me, but I hear from non-Pentecostals that it can be quite frightening. Creepy.

They might introduce themselves to you, and you may be asked if you know the Lord, or if you're saved. I can't say for sure though. Depending on how the Spirit is moving, you could have piles of them all speaking in tongues up around the alter, crying and waving their arms. If they know you're a non-believer, some may try to get you to go forward to the altar and get you to give your heart to Jesus. Get you to pray The Sinner's Prayer.

I can't really remember a lot from church. I haven't gone on a regular basis in years.

Have fun with the church hopping! I hope you post about your experiences! :)

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Hmmm.... I've always wanted to do that, too.

Anyway. If you're going to attend a Pentecostal church for the first time, you should go to the evening service. In my experience, this is when they're most likely to be moved by the Spirit and all that, and speak in tongues and stuff.

I grew up with it, so it doesn't bother me, but I hear from non-Pentecostals that it can be quite frightening. Creepy.

They might introduce themselves to you, and you may be asked if you know the Lord, or if you're saved. I can't say for sure though. Depending on how the Spirit is moving, you could have piles of them all speaking in tongues up around the alter, crying and waving their arms. If they know you're a non-believer, some may try to get you to go forward to the altar and get you to give your heart to Jesus. Get you to pray The Sinner's Prayer.

I can't really remember a lot from church. I haven't gone on a regular basis in years.

Have fun with the church hopping! I hope you post about your experiences! :)

 

I'll certainly post my experiences here after I go. I think I might try to find a Pentecostal church first and dive in at the deep end. I think I'll be scared out of my wits, coming from a Catholic background where nobody ever says or does anything that you're not completely expecting during Mass.

 

How long do you think it will last? I'm guessing it's pretty flexible, but I hope we're not talking much more than 2 hours here...

 

If they do ask me if I'm saved, what should I do? I don't really want to lie if I can avoid it, but if I say no are they going to start trying to lay hands on me or get me to pray to Jebus or something? :twitch: How would I go about avoiding praying at the altar?

 

Sorry about all the questions...

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I have tried other churches and found them all to be pretty much lacking. United Church of Christ was the best one that I tried though. They were the most liberal and tolerant. It was, however, my last ditch attempt to believe.

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I can't advise you much, Robbie, although I've been to just about every flavor of Protestant church and a few flavors of Catholic. I imagine that churches in the UK are very different from churches in the US.

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Enjoy your quest, robbie.

 

For my part, I was a baptist. There are a lot of different kinds of baptists, but the common thread is that they are fundies. They believe the babble is the literal word of gawd, they believe in salvation by grace then works will follow, and if you don't have a personal relationship with jebus you're toast. Literally.

 

If the church has a smart pastor, he will likely see you, he'll know there's a stranger present, and there will be threads of evangelism woven into the sermon, whatever the subject. Aimed at you, or at least you'll feel like it. (Unless, of course, it's a church that's running under budget, in which case the sermon will likely be focused on offerings and tithes) There will be an altar call, because the baptists believe in public profession of faith. It can be quite hypnotic to the unwary.

 

My wife is an ex-pentacostal, and I've seen their antics too. If you're lucky you may get treated to the whole show...speaking in tongues, being slain in the spirit, flopping around in the aisles like a boat full of netted fish. Otherwise, they're fundies like the baptists.

 

They tend to be very friendly people, and you'll probably feel a sense that they really care about you, at least in and around the church. But if you feel uncomfortable, you can always allow yourself to be "spirited" out the door.

 

Best wishes...

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Pentecostal types scare the shit out of me :unsure:

 

I'd rather slip in the back of an Anglican church and observe with the minimum of people bothering me :grin:

 

Salvation Army are very friendly in a non-bothersome way. But you have to put up with all that godawful brass band music :twitch:

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I do want to try out some of the Baptist churches too...they seem to be, on the whole, what people mean when they talk about fundamentalists. As an ex-Catholic, I also wonder if it's true that the preachers say the Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon and the Pope is the anti-Christ and all that sort of stuff.

 

I know we've got a Mormon church and a JW Kingdom Hall as well, but I think I'll build up to them. I'm actually pretty scared of going to the Kingdom Hall...they must do something weird to their followers to get them to actually believe what they do.

 

I figure that if anyone starts doing anything weird near me in the Pentecostal church, then it won't matter if I accidentally blurt out 'Jesus Christ!' or some variant...I'll just have to run with it and pretend I'm praising or something. :shrug: Though if I accidentally come out with 'Jesus, Mary, Joseph!' it might be harder to explain. :HaHa:

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Well, you may or may not see all of the crazy beliefs spouted on one visit. They're sneaky... at least where I went. It takes a few months to really see the nature of a church, but if you're observant, you can pick up on a lot from one visit.

 

I'm a theology geek too... I have to admit to doing the same thing. ;) Have fun! It's therapeutic. It makes you feel good that you left religion.

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As an ex-Catholic, I also wonder if it's true that the preachers say the Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon and the Pope is the anti-Christ and all that sort of stuff.

That's what they used to teach at the fundamentalist holiness church I used to attend as a child. They were one of many different denominations known as The Church of God. I've heard that the Seventh-Day Adventist church teaches that Catholic=Babylon also. Maybe you'd want to visit one of their churches. Just remember to show up on Saturday morning, not Sunday.

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Yeah, some churches have church on Saturday. If you go to a Penticostal church, all you have to do is fake a seizure and string a bunch of non-coherant syllables together and you'll fit right in. Do try a Word of Life church also, as they have infected the world with the US brand of Fundamentamentalist Christianity.

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Guest MonkeySee

Growing up we did Calvary Chapel in CA and then their sister Church out here in Boston. I always found them to be pretty contemporary in their style of music and attire. Pretty laid back actually. The service lasted about an hour and a half I believe, with the first half hour being music. At the end they did an "altar call" where those that wanted to give their life over to Jesus or reaffirm their faith could come up. They were always very friendly to newcomers, but didn't really try to convert anyone.

 

I went as recently as this year for my mom and sat in the nursing room with DD so I didn't interact as much then. But, I don't think it's any secret amongst their friends that I'm not Christian and no one tried to save me haha. I think that if you went regularly it would start to come up more, but just going once to get a feel may not have that effect. Of course that all depends on the style of the church. You may likely walk away with several pamphlets at some.

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Hmmm.... I've always wanted to do that, too.

Anyway. If you're going to attend a Pentecostal church for the first time, you should go to the evening service. In my experience, this is when they're most likely to be moved by the Spirit and all that, and speak in tongues and stuff.

I grew up with it, so it doesn't bother me, but I hear from non-Pentecostals that it can be quite frightening. Creepy.

They might introduce themselves to you, and you may be asked if you know the Lord, or if you're saved. I can't say for sure though. Depending on how the Spirit is moving, you could have piles of them all speaking in tongues up around the alter, crying and waving their arms. If they know you're a non-believer, some may try to get you to go forward to the altar and get you to give your heart to Jesus. Get you to pray The Sinner's Prayer.

I can't really remember a lot from church. I haven't gone on a regular basis in years.

Have fun with the church hopping! I hope you post about your experiences! :)

 

I'll certainly post my experiences here after I go. I think I might try to find a Pentecostal church first and dive in at the deep end. I think I'll be scared out of my wits, coming from a Catholic background where nobody ever says or does anything that you're not completely expecting during Mass.

 

How long do you think it will last? I'm guessing it's pretty flexible, but I hope we're not talking much more than 2 hours here...

 

If they do ask me if I'm saved, what should I do? I don't really want to lie if I can avoid it, but if I say no are they going to start trying to lay hands on me or get me to pray to Jebus or something? :twitch: How would I go about avoiding praying at the altar?

 

Sorry about all the questions...

 

 

 

No worries about the questions. Ask away, and I'll try to answer as best I can. :)

 

I had a reply all written up last night, and hit the wrong button and lost my post. Haha. So I'll try to remember what I wrote...

 

As for length, the services are generally about two hours in length, more or less.

The standard format is: singing, prayer, more singing, and then the preaching. The creepy part usually comes after the preaching, during what they call the "After Service." This is when the congregation is invited to come to the altar for prayer and worship, and when the Spirit might move and you get the speaking in tongues and all that (the Altar Call). If you find you are too uncomfortable to stay for this, no worries, it's acceptable to leave after the preaching, or at any time during the after service. (Of course, you're free to leave 10 minutes after you get there if you want to!)

It probably won't happen, but if anyone asks why you didn't go up, you can just say you prefer to worship/pray from your seat. But there are always people who stay in their seats, so don't feel bad about not going up to the front. You could always just tell them this is your first time at their church and you just wanted to see what it was all about.

 

If anyone asks you if you if you're "saved," know Jesus or whatever, you could just say you're a seeker. I probably wouldn't want to give them a straight answer. I'm not really sure what they would do if you said no, and I understand you don't want to outright lie about it.

 

I had more written last night, I think, but I forget what it was. Knowing me, probably just rambling. If there's anything else you're wondering about, again, just ask and I hope I can remember how to answer. :)

 

Take care. :)

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I've visited a number of churches here in Ontario. They are pretty much the same. You go in, find a place to put your jacket if you're wearing one, then find a place to sit if you like, or chat with people. If you're new they will probably engage you to make you feel welcome. Some may even offer to sit with you. Some of them might have a time to introduce visitors. Just do what the others do and you should be okay. Except if you want to refrain from Communion or that sort of thing just stay back.

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Going on "Church Safari" to see the natives in their natural habitats is something I've been wanting to do for a while. My church (Unitarian Universalist) takes the summers off, which would be a perfect time for me to check out the Real Christians.

 

Let us know how it goes. Might finally get my ass off the couch Sunday mornings this summer and get some "real" churchin' in me. And remind me why I love my little liberal haven of community known as UU.

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Thanks guys. :)

 

I'll bear all that in mind evergreen, thanks. I'll be sure to say I'm a seeker if asked (which is true) and if I can actually say anything coherent. Both as a Catholic and now an agnostic, the question "Are you saved?" has always made me angry and uncomfortable, because the whole premise is so unbelievably stupid.

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I've only ever been to a couple Anglican churches and my local Salvation Army corps. There's quite a variety in Anglicanism though...one church I visited was Anglo-Catholic and, as the name suggests, the services are very similar to Catholic mass. Another was an evangelical Anglican church...they had modern music, kiddies dancing, less fancy liturgy for communion services. At the Salvation Army church I found the people very friendly and wanted to chat with me whilst in the Anglican churches you could just walk in, sit at the back and people barely noticed you.

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This is something I've wanted to do for awhile, as well. However, I just can't seem to drag myself away from bed on Sunday morning.

 

Our local free weekly newspaper had a section called "Houses of the Holy" for awhile. It's various "prophets" would go out and visit local churches, then make "ten pronouncements" about that church. Anyone could download their forms and become one of their prophets, and I thought about doing it. However, they seemed to have stopped publishing those.

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Going on "Church Safari" to see the natives in their natural habitats is something I've been wanting to do for a while. My church (Unitarian Universalist) takes the summers off, which would be a perfect time for me to check out the Real Christians.

 

Let us know how it goes. Might finally get my ass off the couch Sunday mornings this summer and get some "real" churchin' in me. And remind me why I love my little liberal haven of community known as UU.

 

You're betting that the "real Christians" don't take the summer off. They do--at least the ones with enough money to go on vacation. Even the ones on paid vacation tend to take it in the summer. Church attendence is lower in the summer. Period. If you want to get into the real sweat and grime of church life, I suggest you attend Sept.-Christmas. That's when folk are committed because it's the new year and their resolutions are solid. After Christmas things get sluggish. Can't tithe fully because they used all the money for Christmas. Summer and vacation are still a loonnggg way off. That's what I observed in the churches around here.

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If you go to a United Methodist service, it shouldn't be too hard to fit in. Just smile a lot and pretend to be friendly when a dozen members come up to you and try to make you join the congregation. I must warn you, however, that the contemporary praise songs will needle their way into your cerebral cortex and fester there for days. Heavy metal generally will help cure that.

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I know I'm late on this, but I've been to my fair share of lutheran churches and they all have coffee.

If you like coffee, go to a lutheran church. :)

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  • 2 months later...

After ages of vague planning, I've finally taken a bit of initiative...I'm going to my friend's church with her family tomorrow morning. They go to quite an odd church afaik. They believe in William Branham, are non-trinitarian and are quite small. Not quite Jehovah's Witness level of a cult, but not far off! Might as well get in at the deep end!! :HaHa:

 

As a gay guy and ex-Catholic with a soft spot for the old faith, I've been warned that I might hear talk of the Catholic church as the anti-Chirst and homosexuality as an abomination...I can't wait. :grin:

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The pastor at my friend's church wasn't there this week, so they listened to a tape of one of William Branham's sermons for over an hour, sang a few hymns and said a few very long prayers. I think I may have nodded off once or twice.

 

There were a few funny moments on the tape though...pretty much everything I'd expect from an American evangelical. He started one anecdote saying, "I was out in the woods shooting squirrels...." And he started pulling bullshit statistics out of the air. I nearly burst out laughing when he said 9 out of 10 people die every year of cancer. And that science doesn't know what causes illnesses, so they call it a 'virus' which is a made up thing. :ugh:

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I usually get left alone... but then I usually have my pocket copy of 'How to Read a Church' open... if they think you're some for of acedemic they avoid you like the plague...

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