Last updated: 12/07/2020




Churches can seem strange for anyone not familiar with the proceedings, so this page is to help you understand what it’s all about. (If you have any questions after reading this, feel free to email me by clicking here.

Our church is a “Mainline Church,” which only means that we were one of the first to break away from the Roman Catholic Church, which had become corrupt during the Middle Ages (the 5th through the 15th century).  Presbyterian roots date back to the early 1500s, as do the Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Mennonites and several others.

Most mainline services, regardless of denomination, are very similar but may vary in their exact order (see footnote). That order will be clearly laid out in the Sunday bulletin that you receive when you first enter the sanctuary.  Members of these churches think of the service as routine, even humdrum, but someone new to church might see the service as a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that makes no logical sense and leave thinking, "Boy that was weird." 

So, in order not to be overwhelmed by the apparent strangeness, this page endeavors to take the "mumbo-jumbo" out of it.  However, please be aware that mainline services vary dramatically from Evangelical, and Charismatic praise services.  If you have attended one of those services and were turned off, don't give up on Christianity—we're different.  (Mainline churches are the quiet ones that you don't hear much about on the evening news.) The same can hold true in reverse—you may find the mainline services a turn-off.

Christianity sprang from ancient Judaism and, like Judaism, our service consists of scripture readings, an exposition of the scripture (sermon), music and songs.  In our church (and many others) we follow the pattern laid out below.  (This will all be in almost every church's Sunday bulletin.)


PRELUDE, (music prior to the service in which the congregation sits, meditates or gabs through.) this may be followed by the...

ANNOUNCEMENTS (Self-explanatory.  However, some churches put the announcements at the end of the service, as we do.)  This is sometimes followed by the

INTROIT (A short choral arrangement), followed by the

CALL TO WORSHIP (Responsive readings led by a church leader with a unison response from the congregation.  The call to worship is taken from a Bible verse that reflects the theme of that Sunday's service.  This will be clearly laid out in the bulletin.)

HYMN (In our church we begin with a hymn of praise to God or God's creation.)

*UNISON PRAYER OF PRAISE (This will be in the Bulletin)

*UNISON PRAYER OF CONFESSION (Optional—like the CALL TO WORSHIP and the PRAYER OF PRAISE it will be in the bulletin.  In our church confessions are personal and done silently.)

*GLORIA PATRI  (The same short song every week.  Once you have heard it, you remember it.)

ANTHEM (Or CHOIR.  Some small churches have no choir during the summer months, but most churches have a choir, no matter how small the church may be.)

FIRST SCRIPTURE READING (May be taken from any portion of the Bible.)

SECOND SCRIPTURE READING (This, too, may be taken from any portion of the Bible.)

SERMON (Usually based on one or both of the above scriptures.)

HYMN OF REFLECTION (Song that tries to strengthen the sermon)

JOYS AND CONCERNS (Both members and visitors may ask that their concerns or joys be lifted up in prayer.)

OFFERING or OFFERTORY  (A monetary collection taken to keep the church doors open.  There's no pressure or requirement to give.)


*BENEDICTION (Pastoral blessing of the congregation)

POSTLUDE (Music played as people stand and leave)

     That's about it.  A mainline service usually runs about an hour, plus or minus.  Many, including us, have coffee and snacks afterwards where visitors are not only welcome, but encouraged to participate in so you get to know us better, and we get to know you.  This is simply a time of fellowship and not an attempt to convert. 

     Asterisks in the bulletin usually means that those who are able should stand.  If you can't, it's OK.  If you don't want to, that's OK too. 

     That is pretty much it.  The first bulletin sample (that you just read above) did not have the Communion Service. Most mainline churches have communion on a monthly basis.  Communion methods vary from church to church, even within the same denomination, but just do what everyone else does and you'll be fine. 


Footnote: Even within the same denominations the service may vary, though basically the same.