what to expect
That first visit to a church can be so awkward - we know that's true, and we want to do everything we can to lessen that awkwardness, as you consider visiting First Church.
Some churches can give the impression that only a select few are welcome.
First Church doesn't operate this way! If this is your first visit, it's been a while,
or you're a regular attender - you are welcome!
Below are a few of the things we've been told people want to know BEFORE they
step foot inside a new church. If you have a question that isn't answered,
please call the church or email Pastor Jeremy!
Our worship is traditional in style but intentionally casual in "vibe". We incorporate high quality instrumental and vocal music with dynamic preaching and teaching, to offer a worship experience that is uplifting, and we hope transformative.
Our Order of Service is included in a weekly newsletter, which is available as you enter the Sanctuary - that's the space we gather in for our time together.
Our worship service does include music every week - so of course there will be some singing. If you don't know the words or the tune of the music then try your best to catch a phrase here or there, feel free to harmonize whenever. Can't sing? No problem. Worship is not a private concert, instead it's an outlet to celebrate spirituality, however that happens is up to you.
The lyrics to the songs we sing will be projected on the wall at the front of the Sanctuary, and are typically available in print as well.
As a general rule of thumb just sit wherever you feel comfortable. We promise to not publicly point out that you're visiting or ask you to stand and share anything during the worship service!
If the service felt welcoming to you, why not hang out with the members over refreshments and casual conversation? You'll find that First Church folks absolutely love their fellowship. Whether it's donuts, tea, coffee, or lemonade, fellowship is central to the life of First Church and is a sacred place where people grow in God with each other. There is always room at the table to build community in Christ.
Church used to be the place to show off your "Sunday best" - fortunately, as society has evolved, so have churches! As you consider what you might wear on your first visit, think "casual Friday"— jeans fit right in with organs and pews. Of course, if dressing up for church means a suit or fancy dress, go right ahead! The idea is to be comfortable - not to impress or make other people comfortable.
Children's Sunday School (during worship) gives our younger friends a place to learn about Jesus, while our parent's lounge gives caregivers a place to address the needs of the littlest among us. We also staff a nursery every week for those parents who might need a little "break", for infants through four years old.
Parking options include - streetside parking where allowed by the city, the parking lot behind the church building, or the city parking lot across from the Warren Street entrance.
On Sunday mornings during worship, the Elm Street doors are open and available for use, as are the Warren Street doors located under the portico. There are bathrooms located near both sets of main doors.
First Church invites any and all to participate in communion. You don't have to say anything to affirm your faith or receive the bread and cup, nor do you need to make any hand gestures. The table is prepared for you. P.S. it's grape juice!
Giving a financial gift to the church is one way members and regular attenders support the work of the church. If you have something to give and feel compelled to do so to support the church's ministries then feel free to give. If not, don't feel worry about it! We don't "pass" offering plates at First Church, and this is in part because we don't want anyone to feel that they have to give in order to be part of what's happening at First.
been there, done that...
Maybe you've tried church in the past, and it didn't go as well as you had hoped, or maybe you have church trauma that you're working through - whatever it is, know that First Church is a community filled with people who have varied experiences with church, including individuals who have found healing from past hurts and trauma caused by the church.
Sometimes different churches fit different people. Our advice - whether you choose to visit First Church or one of the other churches in Big Rapids - don't give up on searching for a place to call your spiritual home.
Your first Sunday at any church is a big deal - but like we said before, we know it can awkward. Ultimately, your experience is the one that matters. First Sundays are an opportunity to explore and discover God in a new place where people of all nations, ages, gender expressions, sexual orientations, and races are welcome.